clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

7 Soulful Sentences About Columbia's $30M Sports Complex

New, 6 comments

In 2011, we knighted Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman the most soulful Twitter emitter of the year. In his latest essay, Kimmelman tackles Columbia University's Campbell Sports Center, which recently opened in Inwood, waxing (true to form) poetic in his descriptions of the vast, elevated structure. He actually doles out much praise to the $30 million, starchitect Steven Holl-designed building, which houses a gym, coaches' offices, an auditorium, and meeting rooms, holding that the aluminum exterior plus details like exposed plumbing and beams inside actually befit, and even enhance, the industrial neighborhood in which it sits. Here now, his review's seven most soulful sentences. Try to wade through the archibabble and feel the love, folks:

1) "The center...is a trifle beside Mr. Holl's mega office and residential projects in China and elsewhere. And it's not a beauty. But it is a tough, sophisticated and imaginative work of architecture for a devilish site."

2) "The subway rumbles straight past the picture windows of the center's second-story, double-height gym, where the college's football team routinely works out to a deafening soundtrack: muscle and heavy metal, inside and out."

3) "It rises over a shambolic jumble of single-story bus depots and auto repair shops, Campbell's sanded-aluminum panels picking up on the industrial vibe and vocabulary of the Broadway Bridge, with its twin raised steel towers, a few blocks north."

4) "From many angles Campbell makes a striking sight in Inwood, its facade a mix of irregular blocks and voids, quasi-Cubist, crisscrossed by exterior stairways."

5) "The architects say football diagrams inspired them. The outside stairs would then be wide receivers, dashing across the field, signaling to the fire escapes on the prewar brick apartments across the street. And inside, a rough-and-ready aesthetic of raw concrete, terrazzo floors and exposed plumbing and beams befits a factory for scholar athletes."

6) "All those cuts, notches, terraces and voids on the facade... frame views. Not just the one under the portico, but also those of the Bronx, the subway, the apartment buildings next door. Those views complete the building. Campbell becomes, in a sense, the sum of its built form plus its framed surroundings."

7) "It's a pity that zoning regulations have nixed retail or other neighborhood amenities along this stretch of Broadway, where Campbell also shuts itself off. When a building tries to fit in with a neighborhood but functionally doesn't because of restrictions placed on it by the city or the client, it's sabotaged."
· A Sports Complex Shows Its Brains and Brawn [NYT]
· All Campbell Sports Center coverage [Curbed]
· All Michael Kimmelman coverage [Curbed]

Columbia University

, Manhattan, NY 10027 (212) 854-1754 Visit Website