NYU could add glassy modern structures to village skyline

NYU presented a more refined version of its 25-year expansion plan today that could completely alter the blocks bounded by Houston and West Fourth streets with a series of modern glass structures.

The plans, proposed by NYU’s design team, include the addition of 1 to 1.5 million square feet of new space in the Washington Square area.

The university, which has an overarching plan to add 6 million square feet of new space to its campus by 2031, said the plans are only proposals and that no decisions about whether to adopt them have been made.

“The rest of the campus is maxed out,” said Sam Brown, a senior architect at Grimshaw, one of the four architecture firms on the design team. “This is where the greatest potential for university expansion exists on its own property.”

One of the three main expansion proposals presented by the team is a 600,000 to 800,000 square foot arrangement of interlocking glass structures dubbed the “Zipper Loft.” The project is being proposed for the corner of Houston and Mercer streets, where the university’s Coles Sports Center now stands.

The design team also proposed a so-called “plinth and tower” design for Washington Square Village along LaGuardia and Mercer.

That plan would include a one-to-two-story “plinth,” or base, for academic use between two existing residential buildings. It would include a public space on the roof accessible by street ramps, as well as an academic tower on Mercer.

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The third design is a 200,000 to 300,000 square-foot residential tower for the Washington Square section of NYU’s campus.

The tower, the design team said, would complete the “pinwheel” arrangement of the three I.M. Pei towers already there.

The area where those towers stand is being considered for landmark status in June, a move NYU has voiced support for. But a landmarking would complicate any plans to build the new tower if NYU opts to pursue today’s proposal.

NYU has been negotiating with the community, which has come out against many of its past plans, over exactly what they will build.

Also today, administrators said little progress had been made on expansion plans for possible remote sites such as Governors Island, Downtown Brooklyn and the Kips Bay CUNY campus.

Senior vice president for university relations and public affairs, Alicia Hurley said the deadline for development proposals on the Kips Bay campus has been extended to May.

As for the expansion plans, Hurley said: “What they’ve come up with is what they think are some very good solutions to our problems and now we go and we refine that and say what would work.”

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