Cost management is an important factor in that strategy. "We realize there are ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys with construction costs. We want to capitalize on that in a very, very opportunistic way," Ienuso says. "Our best hedge against cost is to give really good direction to the design team," he says. "We're very serious about budgets."

He says other steps the school has taken include working with its construction manager early on; applying technology such as BIM and leveraging mock ups; and maintaining competition by eliminating sole sourcing.

At NYU, three-fourths of its students are from out of state, which has created demand for residential housing, says Lynne Brown, NYU senior vice president of University Relations and Public Affairs. The school occupies 15 million sq ft in five NYC locations, but plans call for adding 1.9 million sq ft through its controversial NYU 2031 plan. Some of this space will be new construction and some will be renovated structures that the university already owns or acquires and repurposes, Brown says.

The merger of Brooklyn's Polytechnic, the nation's second-oldest private engineering school, into NYU's school of engineering will be completed next year, she says. The merged entity will be known as NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering starting this January.