With the opening of the new academic year, Steven Holl Architects has completed renovation of the interiors of an 1890 building at 3-5 Washington Place for the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science at New York University (NYU). Originally located in the Silver building, a mixed use facility for classrooms and academic departments, the Department of Philosophy is now consolidated new presence in both the city and on campus.
Although the historic exteriors remained untouched, the new interiors give the Department of Philosophy a luminous image. The facility includes faculty and graduate student offices, seminar rooms, a periodicals library & lounge and a ground floor 120-seat cork auditorium.
Steven Holl Architects organized the 30,000 square feet of interiors around a concept of the phenomenal properties of light and materials. A new porous stair, changing its direction at each floor, vertically connects the six-level building through shifting light and shadow and is designed to encourage social interaction. This vertical connection in light is activated by the presence of faculty members and students and by a prismatic film splitting the available sunlight periodically. The light effect in the stairwell changes according to the seasons and the time of day. The upper level floors, containing the faculty offices and seminar rooms, have been designed in different shades and textures of black & white inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s book “Remarks on Color”. Steven Holl Architects have designed furniture, coat hooks, light fixtures, and door handles for the Department of Philosophy.
In 2004 Steven Holl Architects was selected for the interior renovation by a joint committee of University Administrators, the Faculty of Arts & Science Dean’s Office and the Philosophy Department for the sensibility and philosophy in its work. About the collaboration with NYU, Steven Holl says: ”University buildings need to focus as incubators for interaction between students and faculty. It was a pleasure working with this university that was willing to broaden its design approach by including our staircase that now functions as the backbone of the building.”
Steven Holl Architects is well-known for invigorating university campuses with innovative designs including The College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2002), Simmons Hall at M.I.T. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002), the Higgins Hall Center Section at the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY, 2005), and most recently the School for Art & Art History at the University of Iowa (Iowa City, 2006).