Columbia unveils Diller Scofidio-designed medical center in Washington Heights

Columbia University has unveiled plans for its medical center’s new education building in Washington Heights, the New York Times reported. The university tapped architecture firms Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler to design the 14-story tower planned for Haven Avenue between West 171st and West 172nd streets. The result is a tower with a wide base that slopes inward with each higher floor. The southern side of the building’s exteriors will be exposed through a transparent glass facade.

“It’s like a vertical landscape, a vertical living room,” said Elizabeth Diller, one of the firm’s principals. “For us it was a great opportunity to think about an educational building that had a different kind of logic and take advantage of a fantastically small footprint.”

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Construction will begin in early 2013 and should be completed in three and a half years, the Times said. The building wil include an auditorium, event areas, student lounges, cafes and outdoor spaces.

The New York Observer noted that the design project marks a rare vertical one for DS+R, which typically focuses on designing cultural venues such as the High Line and Lincoln Center. [NYT] and [NYO]