After years of community opposition, Columbia University has started moving in to its Manhattanville campus in West Harlem. The university used eminent domain to get access to the nearly 17-acre site.
Even so, architect Renzo Piano said the campus was built with the community in mind, with glass walls, large sidewalks and open piazzas. “A well-crafted building is a good thing to do, it's a promise of something good,” Piano said. “It's not just aesthetics — making things well is more than aesthetics — it's ethics.”
Eventually, the campus will hold about a half-dozen buildings, including Columbia's business school.
As part of a larger Community Benefits Agreement, Columbia is giving $20 million to the city's affordable housing fund, $18 million for maintenance of the West Harlem Piers Park and $4 million for housing legal assistance, as well as dedicated scholarships and internships for community residents.
The first two buildings will open in spring 2017. The Jerome L. Greene Science Center will be an interdisciplinary research lab focused on understanding how “the brain becomes the mind.” There will also be a 60,000 square foot art gallery and performance space, named the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Four buildings are scheduled to be open by 2021,