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Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus debuts final Renzo Piano building

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The three-story structure will be home to a cafe, an auditorium, meeting rooms, and offices for the university’s programs

The Forum is the three-story structure within the triangular lot.
Frank Oudeman/Columbia University

The last of three buildings that Renzo Piano Building Workshop designed for Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus in West Harlem officially debuted earlier this week. The three-story building, known as the Forum, is located on a triangular lot at the intersection of West 125th Street and Broadway. The 56,000-square-foot structure will serve as a space for academic conferences, and public meetings and discussions.

On the ground floor, the Forum has a 4,200-square-foot cafe that’s open to the public, and will have Wi-Fi. This space can also function as a catering facility if more formal functions are held at the building. The forum also has a 437-seat auditorium, which stands out because of its prefabricated concrete facade (the rest of the building features a glazed facade, which allows you to clearly see through all of the spaces). Also on the upper floors are meeting rooms and offices, the latter of which will initially house the Columbia World Projects and the Obama Foundation Scholars.

The Forum now joins the other two buildings designed by Renzo Piano at the Manhattanville campus: the Lenfest Center for the Arts, and the Jerome L. Greene Science Center. All three buildings at the Manhattanville Campus offer some level of public engagement. The science building has a wellness center which offers free blood pressure readings among other services; and an education lab which offers free science classes on Saturdays. The arts center has the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, which exhibits works of local artists, among other exhibits.

Two more buildings are currently under construction at the 17-acre Manhattanville campus which stretches between West 125th Street and 133rd Street, between Broadway and Twelfth Avenue. Diller Scofidio + Renfro have designed two buildings for the Columbia Business School: the Henry R. Kravis Building and the Ronald O. Perelman Center.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop worked on the master plan of the Manhattanville campus with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill serving as the urban design team. On the Forum, Dattner Architects served as the Executive Architect and Caples Jefferson Architects as Associate Architect.