NYU’s Updated Expansion Plan Revealed
New York University updated details on its proposed expansion at Washington Square in hopes of quelling public criticism of plans to re-imagine two superblocks. In November, NYU abandoned efforts to build its controversial 400-ft-tall Fourth Tower, which critics claimed would have dwarfed the I.M. Pei-designed Silver Towers on the site. New plans aim to meet academic space needs without exceeding the height of the Silver Towers and without use of eminent domain.
Plans include construction of a new seven-story public elementary school topped by seven stories of student residences. It would be located at the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place, which was the proposed site of the Fourth Tower. Other aspects include creating three acres of open space, community-based playgrounds and dog runs.
The strategy for NYU’s plan was released last spring and is an outgrowth of its master plan, NYU 2031: NYU in NYC, which envisions the addition of as much as 6 million sq ft of space over more than two decades. Half of that space would be spread out on three locations, including Manhattan’s East Side health corridor in downtown Brooklyn, on Governor’s Island and half around the university’s main location.
The proposal will be reviewed through New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The portion of NYU 2031 up for consideration through the ULURP focuses on NYU’s superblocks in Greenwich Village and includes two new academic buildings containing an academic department and faculty offices on the Washington Square block, a 14-story building on the west side of Mercer Street, enhancing LaGuardia Place’s open space, the construction of an eight-story building that has shifted off the LaGuardia Place strip and the addition of extra classroom and student space that will be built below-grade beneath and between the two new academic buildings.
A new mixed-use, 800,000-sq-ft building that will be located on the site of the current Coles Gym is also part of the superblock plan. This building will have an approximately five-story podium and a series of towers ranging from 27 stories on the corner of Mercer Street and Houston Street, which will match the height of the existing Silver Towers, to eight stories in the middle of the block.