Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake Unveil Designs for NYU Complex in New York

December 14, 2016
The architectural team comprised of Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake has unveiled its newest updates on the design for 181 Mercer, a 735,000-square-foot complex for New York University that will replace a 35-year-old gym facility and become NYU's largest classroom building, as well as a space for performing arts, athletics, and students and faculty housing.

The design, which features a slimmer massing and 20% less gross square footage than permitted by the City approvals process, focuses on transparency, lightness, and connection, in an effort to contrast with the bunker-like character of its predecessor—Cole's Sports Center—and to make Mercer Street itself more engaging.

Through the addition of 60 new classrooms, 20 music instruction rooms, and a variety of study spaces, NYU will accommodate a growing need for properly sized and equipped academic spaces, thus allowing for other buildings to create more laboratories, as a part of a long-range effort to support the sciences.

Additionally, the space will feature three new theaters, an orchestral ensemble room, ten performing arts classrooms, and 50 individual practice rooms, giving "young performing artists in Tisch and Steinhardt practice, rehearsal, and performance spaces in keeping with programs of NYU's caliber."

In lieu of a traditional university "quad," the second floor of 181 Mercer will become a "Commons" space that will encourage casual interactions between different disciplines and activities for students and faculty alike.

The building will also include housing for approximately 420 freshmen, 30 to 60 faculty apartments, and an athletics facility with spaces dedicated to various sports and the capability of hosting up to 2,700 people for assemblies.

Because the building will be used for such varying programs, separate entrances for classrooms, athletics, residences, and theaters will work to control traffic flow and optimize user interactions. Moreover, the first-floor atrium will be accessible to neighbors, with a dedicated room for local community users.

With a transparent façade of floor-to-ceiling windows, the building aims to save energy by admitting natural light. Similarly, sustainability was kept in mind for the design of an outdoor greenway, green roofs to moderate water runoff and naturally cool the building and a connection to NYU's co-generation plant. Overall, 181 Mercer will pursue LEED v4 Silver at a minimum and is targeting a Gold rating.

Demolition on the existing Cole's gym began in October of 2016. Construction of the new building is slated to begin in February 2017, and be finished in 2021.

by Sabrina Santos
llustration: studioAMD