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Obey Mar 10, 2011 10:25 PM

NEW YORK | 181 Mercer Street (NYU Expansion) | 3X23 FLOORS
Plan for Washington Square Village Calls for an NYU Mountain


NYU dropped its plan for a new 40-story building to "complete" the Silver Towers complex, but the NYU 2031 expansion blueprint is filled with other big ideas, including at Washington Square Village, the superblock just north of Silver Towers and just south of Washington Square Park. There, on the green space that links the two parallel strips of high-rises (home to many grad students and faculty members), NYU has proposed building two new above-ground academic buildings, both connected to a large underground facility topped with fresh green space. God, could this introduction be any more boring when compared to the crazy visuals above? Just stop reading and click through that gallery. We'll wait. OK, now continue.

The school has released early concepts of what it intends to do at Washington Square Village, but landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (of Brooklyn Bridge Park fame) has taken things a step further. The firm's New York University Master Plan rundown has epic renderings of the new buildings and grounds, which include surface public areas and a sloped "Light Garden" (as the NYU 2031 plan puts it) to allow light into the underground facilities. This NYU Mountain would be accessed through the new buildings. Here's how the design team describes the project:

A new center for the university on the Washington Square Village superblock will maximize the use of below-grade space for academics and serve as a new student hub. Existing and proposed above-grade buildings will be focused on faculty residences and academic departmental space, respectively; both will include retail or community spaces at grade to encourage a high level of urban traffic. The new landscape, which is at grade with the city sidewalks, is a pedestrian thoroughfare and a “common ground” for interaction among students, faculty, and the public. It will include plant communities with multiseasonal appeal, contributing to the creation of intimately scaled spaces that support a variety of social activities.

When the time comes for NYU to formally present these ideas, how will the locals react to the "plant communities with multiseasonal appeal?" Hopefully better than they took to the playgrounds for toddlers and puppies.

Old Rendering:

Current Site:

Obey Mar 10, 2011 10:27 PM

My personal opinion is that NYU has completely taken over the Village and I think they should just build their campus on Governors Island as was proposed. This however is visually incredible.

SkyscrapersOfNewYork Mar 11, 2011 2:16 AM

this is amazing and very surprising! Get er' done!

NYguy Mar 11, 2011 5:30 AM

Seems all of the major campuses in Manhattan have been pushing for larger expansions, but NYU has been at war the longest with its neighbors. However, they did drop plans for the larger tower - one that was originally planned for the Silver Towers complex...
NYU Ready to Grow

By Eliot Brown
March 22, 2010


The school, with a beefed up community affairs operation, has thrown bones to preservation groups (consenting to the landmarking of a large NYU block); adjusted plans to demolish a building with a theater when faced with opposition; and held a recurring set of community forums with the goal of improving town-gown relations (the topic this month: "NYU's Haitian Relief Efforts").

The effort—aimed at shedding the historically strained, and at times abysmal, relationship with the pernickety Village—is all a prelude to the university's planned major expansion over the next two decades, as it seeks to increase its holdings by 6 million square feet, a key initiative of NYU president John Sexton.

...The most contentious aspect of this plan will surely be the growth of the school in the Village itself, where there's a set that seems ready to scream and yell the moment anyone proposes putting a shovel in the ground.

To this end, according to two people briefed on NYU's general plans, the school intends to move ahead with an earlier circulated proposal to build a tall residential tower in its I.M. Pei-designed Silver Towers complex, among other plans. An earlier draft plan called for a 40-story tower to rise on the site, a modernist tower-in-the-park development that holds a Pablo Picasso sculpture in its central courtyard.

Paxton Mar 11, 2011 12:28 PM

Awesome plan! I just can't wait to see it complete as soon as possible. It will be a valuable addition to the beauty of the city.

patriotizzy Mar 11, 2011 7:28 PM

I actually like the new proposal much much better. I usually like to go for "the taller, the better." However, the renders for the "NYU Mountain" looks sooo beautiful.

Obey Mar 12, 2011 2:47 AM

NYU to Officially Unveil the Greenwich Village 4 Next Week


Forget the sketches, concepts and website leaks, NYU is ready to formally unwrap the biggest Greenwich Village components of its NYU 2031 expansion plan. This will happen on March 15, The Villager reports. What we're talking about are the four big new university buildings proposed within the "core" campus around Washington Square Park and NYU's pair of locally-loathed superblocks. We've discussed all four of these in some detail, but like good students, let's review our notes before the exam.

1) This is the as-of-right building that would replace the Morton Williams supermarket just behind Silver Towers on LaGuardia Place, which NYU decided to build once its 40-story hotel/residence hall met with a quick demise. It's shorter than 40 stories, but it's a chubby little guy, so the amount of space is still the same. NYU says work could start in three years, and we're very curious what the final design will look like. Will it be especially ugly to spite those who helped kill the Silver Towers plan?

2) We've seen a lot of this one, dubbed the Zipper Building, which would replace the school's grim Coles Sports Center at Mercer Street and Houston Street. While this gym/athletic facility/dorm/academic building would bring some interesting architecture to the spot (its height ranges from 14 to 17 stories), it's the subject of some heated opposition because of the public strips of land NYU wants and the local dog run that the school wants to move to Silver Towers to make the Zipper happen. According to the Villager, the dog run people are already on the offensive and are threatening to sue NYU.

3) and 4) We just talked about these! The two above-ground buildings (there's also a large underground facility) planned for the middle of Washington Square Village have been dubbed the Boomerang Buildings because of their shape. The massive plan, featuring some downright crazy landscape architecture, was (prematurely?) posted on the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates website, so there may not be any surprises on the 15th. NYU, preferring to get cracking on the previous two projects, says it won't start this for another 15 years, by which point most of their critics will have died or moved to Florida.

Obey Mar 12, 2011 2:49 AM

The key phrase there is "15 years." Yes, 15 years until we will see this built.

patriotizzy Mar 12, 2011 7:46 PM


Originally Posted by Obey (Post 5197447)
The key phrase there is "15 years." Yes, 15 years until we will see this built.

Seriously? Jesus Christ...

NYguy Mar 13, 2011 1:20 PM


NYU, preferring to get cracking on the previous two projects, says it won't start this for another 15 years, by which point most of their critics will have died or moved to Florida.
Leaving their children and grandchildren to carry on the good fight...:haha:

NYguy Mar 17, 2011 2:36 AM

NYU releases revised campus expansion renderings, with scaled-back plans
Lynne Brown, a senior vice president with NYU, and NYU project spokesperson John Marino stand in front of a proposed redesign model

March 16, 2011
By Adam Fusfeld


Following community backlash to its initial Greenwich Village expansion plan, New York University today unveiled new scaled down renderings for a few buildings that are part of the school's citywide growth scheme.

The university will present the revised plan for three buildings, rather than the four as initially proposed, to the public next week, and said it expects to begin the public approval process in May.

The plan, initiated in 2006 and known as "NYU 2031," calls for 6 million square feet of growth, about half of which spans West 3rd to Houston streets, and LaGuardia Place to Mercer Street, within the heart of the Greenwich Village campus, said Lynne Brown, NYU's senior vice president of public affairs at a press briefing this afternoon.

It's highlighted by two boomerang-shaped buildings at the center of the block north of Bleecker Street and a staggered, zipper-shaped building at the southeastern corner of the block south of Bleecker. NYU will also develop a 14-story building at the current Morton Williams supermarket site, which will contain an 800-student public school underneath seven floors of NYU student dormitories.

Noticeably absent from the revised plan was the highly-criticized 40-story, 400-foot-tall hotel on Bleecker Street, that would have towered over three existing 30-story buildings.

In the presentation the school clearly demonstrated its attempts to appeal to local residents by emphasizing the open space recreational benefits to the new plan. The university said it wants to be as transparent as possible and incorporate current residents into the design process to ensure that the space appeals to everyone. NYU will be present its plans before local Community Board 2 March 21.

"It will certainly be nicer in design, but usefulness to the community is key," Matt Urbanski, a principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, who is heading up the project's landscaping, said during a presentation before the media. The design has renovated and reintegrated existing play areas for children, dog runs, and tree-heavy promenades. The campus, he noted, "will become part of people's daily itinerary -- their way of moving through the neighborhood."

But the community's chief concern was with NYU "squeezing" 2 million square feet of additional space in the two Greenwich Village blocks and overtaking public spaces, said Andrew Berman, executive director for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

In a letter sent to the community and press, he suggested the university would be better off expanding into the Financial District (where its business classrooms once stood), "where it would be contextual, where it would be welcomed, and where it would provide the 24-hour-a-day activity and mixed-use presence that neighborhood needs and is seeking."

Brown doesn't see the Financial District area as a viable alternative for the university's core campus. "We're not allergic to downtown," she said, but only as a remote location. Financially, it makes more sense for the university to build on land it already owns, and logistically, it makes most sense to keep the bulk of the arts and sciences buildings together, she said.

NYguy Mar 17, 2011 3:29 AM

Obey Mar 17, 2011 10:21 AM

Reminds me of the Columbia University expansion renderings.

NYguy Mar 24, 2011 4:54 AM

N.Y.U. shifts public school, hotel in latest design


New York University’s revised design plans for its northern superblock are somewhat similar to what the university presented last April. However, what was formerly a planned, public Light Garden in the middle of Washington Square Village has been replaced by what’s now being called a quiet Philosophy Garden.

Plans still call for two large “Boomerang,” or lima-bean-shaped, buildings to be added within the block. More design changes are evident on the southern superblock, where in November N.Y.U. scrapped plans to add a fourth tower — containing faculty residences and a hotel — within the landmarked I.M. Pei-designed Silver Towers complex after Pei objected.

The university now plans to build on the adjacent Morton Williams supermarket site, where it would put a 175-foot-tall building, containing both a 400-seat public school and, on top of it, 400 undergrad dorm rooms. And on the current Coles gym site, the new “Zipper” building N.Y.U. plans would now have 1,000 undergrad dorm rooms, up to 100 faculty apartments and a 150-bed hotel that would be 275 feet tall at its highest point at the corner of Mercer and Houston Sts. — equal to the Silver Towers’ height — but would be lower — 125 feet and 225 feet tall — at other points.

Previously, the public school had been slated either for the “Zipper” or the western “Boomerang.” Images on this page show, top, a bird’s-eye view of the design for the two superblocks and, below, how the remnant of Greene St. would be increased to 30 feet wide and pedestrianized if, as N.Y.U. hopes, it can shift its new “Zipper” building onto the currently city-owned strip of public land on Mercer St.

NYguy Mar 24, 2011 6:41 PM

NYU's Greenwich Village Expansion Plans, From the Ground Up

Thursday, March 24, 2011, by Pete Davies


This week NYU officials gave a show and tell to community members of the school's newly revised expansion plans for the superblocks south of Washington Square in Greenwich Village, but the details weren't always apparent, despite lots of lively questions from the opposition. To keep everyone informed NYU has posted the updated plan online [pdf], so folks can read up on Big Purple's wish list of zoning changes, de-mapping and program distribution. Fun for the whole family!

For those who like things three dimensional, architectural models of the proposed buildings can be seen at the NYU Open House at 532 LaGuardia Place. We were curious, so we popped in to take a look.

...The time frame for NYU to accomplish all this expansion reaches 20 years into the future, hence the NYU 2031 moniker. The south superblock would get built up first, from 2012 to 2022, with the Zipper the likely place to begin. This would allow a new supermarket to be ready for the locals before the Morton Williams site is shut down and demolished for the Bleecker building. But to build the Zipper, the Coles Athletic Center would first have to go, so NYU's idea is to have a temporary athletic center in the Washington Square Village open space, making the Boomerang Buildings the last pieces to be completed.

None of this is a done deal, and NYU has a long public review period ahead. Hearings could begin in May (NYU is slated to file some official paperwork in April), and if all goes as Big Purple wants, the plan would be certified by the beginning of 2012 and construction would begin soon after. But the head of the Community Board has declared that Villagers are on the warpath, and warned that the superblock fight will be super serious.

Obey Mar 24, 2011 9:48 PM

I really just want the 'boomerang' buildings.

NYguy Apr 20, 2011 1:56 PM

NYU's expansion plan hits pothole
New York state rules that Washington Square Village site where the school plans to add two new buildings
may be eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

By Amanda Fung
April 19, 2011


New York University's ambitious expansion plans for its core Greenwich Village campus may be even harder to pull off than the school originally expected. Opponents of the plans said Tuesday that the New York State Historic Preservation Office has ruled that the Washington Square Village site dominated by two sprawling apartment buildings—where NYU proposes adding two new buildings—is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, they said that NYU can't use state or federal money to build or demolish structures on the site.

Last month, NYU unveiled a new plan to replace an earlier proposal that envisioned building a fourth tower at a landmarked West Houston Street site called Silver Towers. NYU had to withdraw that plan, which involved erecting a 400-foot tall tower, after the three-building complex’s famed architect, I.M. Pei, disapproved of it. The new plan involves building two curved towers in Washington Square Village, which might now be entered in the National Register.

“We are well aware of the [State Historic Preservation Office] determination; in fact, we had met and conducted a site tour with the SHPO to ensure that all of these matters were fully understood as we undertake the environmental impact study,” said NYU, in a statement. “It's inaccurate to claim that the determination by the State Historic Preservation Office means that the project will not be successful.”

NYU expects to begin the public approval process for its new plan next month, when it will hold its first hearing regarding the environmental impact. One of the new buildings will be 14-stories high and located on the eastern edge of the site, along Mercer Street, and the other will be eight stories high and on the west side of the block, off the LaGuardia Place strip. NYU also plans to build a seven-story, 100,000-square-foot New York City public school in place of what is now a Morton William's supermarket, located at the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place, which the university has owned since 2001.

Critics say the latest ruling could pose a significant hurdle for those plans.

“This is another reason why NYU needs to look at other locations, such as downtown Manhattan, for their expansion,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

NYU recently said it will begin the city's lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in the fall. NYU's 25-year growth plan calls for the addition of 6 million square feet. Half of that will be in Greenwich Village and areas surrounding Washington Square Park.

NYguy Jan 5, 2012 1:30 PM

The Village, Brooklyn, Now the East Side: N.Y.U. Unveils New Health Ed. Complex

By Matt Chaban 1/04


N.Y.U has been rather busy of late. The school is still vying to get its Downtown Brooklyn tech campus approved by the Bloomberg administration and yesterday its hulking Greenwich Village expansion was certified by the City Planning Commission, meaning months of acrimonious NIMBYing are ahead.

As if that were not enough, the school has just released designs for a new dentistry school at 433 First Avenue, the latest addition to its healthcare campus on the Middle East Side.

Located at the corner of 26th Street, the new building is designed by KPF and EYP Architecture & Engineering. With 170,000 square feet of space, the new facilities will expand the university’s current dental school facilities, add a new bioengineering program that will work across a number of departments, as well as housing the nursing school, which is relocating from the core campus in Greenwich Village.

This move is meant to alleviate pressure on the already space-constrained university where it often finds itself at odds with neighbors. Last year, N.Y.U. began demolishing a grand red-brick five-story building on the site, which dated to 1897, facing no apparent opposition on that front. Funny how big a difference the right neighbors make.

(^ already demolished)

Hypothalamus Jan 8, 2014 8:48 PM

Curbed NY:

Judge Halts NYU Expansion, Says State Approval Is Needed
Wednesday, January 8, 2014, by Jessica Dailey


In an unexpected ruling yesterday, state judge Donna M. Mills blocked part of New York University's 1.9 million square foot expansion plans, ruling that the university needs state approval for the pieces that would impact public parks. Mills wrote in her decision that the Bloomberg administration turned over three public parks to NYU "without approval by the New York State Legislature in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine." The ruling had anti-NYU Villagers dancing in the streets applauding the death of the megaproject, but is the celebrating premature? NYU also touted the the ruling as a victory (finally! a ruling both sides can agree on!), releasing a statement from spokesman John Beckman that says, "This is a complex ruling, but the judgment is a very positive one for NYU. [...] The decision reaffirms the ULURP approval by the City Council." NYU also highlights the fact that the judge threw out five of the six claims brought by the opponents.

So why are both sides happy? NYU insists that the ruling will allow them to move forward with the project's largest building, the 1-million-square-foot Zipper Building, which is planned for construction atop the university's gym. The building runs along Mercer Street, stretching the entire block between Houston and Bleecker Streets. NYU officials told the Times that construction of the building, which may rise 26-stories, could begin in 18 months. Beckman said that NYU's next legal steps are unknown, but they are reviewing the decision to "determine the precise impact of the ruling on our ability to implement other elements of the plan."

But an attorney for the opponents told the Times it "it was 'delusional' for anyone to argue that one portion of what had been a comprehensive project could move forward alone." He said that the ruling sends NYU back to square one because a "piecemeal approach would constitute a new project materially different from that previously approved by the city and requiring its own separate environmental review and approval process." In the NYU statement, however, Beckman said just the opposite. "The court did not vacate the City Council's ULURP approval."

City Council approved the plans 44 to 1 in July 2012. The 20-year plan calls for the construction of new dorms, classroom space, and offices on two blocks south of Washington Square Park. Part of the new construction would destroy three parcels that judge Mills determined to be parkland: LaGuardia Park, Mercer Playground, and LaGuardia Corner Gardens. The Villager explains that land has never been formally transferred to the parks department, but the sites have been used as open space for decades—and they sport official Parks Department signage.

While the parkland ruling seriously impedes the construction of three planned buildings, the judge threw out the following claims (as detailed by the Villager): "that N.Y.U. and the city failed to examine feasible alternatives to 2031; that the university's plan violates the Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Law; that there was insufficient environmental review; that the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) was faulty; and that there were violations of the Open Meetings Law by N.Y.U. and elected officials during the plan's review process."

Either way, the battle for Greenwich Village is clearly not over. It probably won't ever be over.

NYguy Jan 9, 2014 11:06 PM

NYU will push ahead with Zipper Building, despite ruling
But community groups say they'll sue to block any construction

January 09, 2014


Neighborhood groups aiming to curb New York University’s expansion in Greenwich Village are threatening to sue should the school continue any part of its plan, following Tuesday’s ruling.

The threat comes after NYU’s original $6 billion expansion plans were blocked by state Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills because they would raze three city parks, including Mercer Playground and LaGuardia Park.

NYU was left with two options: scale back the expansion so as to not to interfere with parkland, or bring the project to the state legislature for approval.

But the school’s latest strategy is to pursue the towers that are being called the Zipper Building, which will replace an existing gym and displace a dog run, according to Bloomberg News. NYU spokesperson John Beckman told Bloomberg the construction would not violate Mill’s orders, since she did not consider the dog run to be a public park and the gym already belongs to the university.

Community groups disagree, however, saying NYU must now re-submit all plans involved with the expansion.

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