Columbia University, Vagelos Education Center

New York, NY

Columbia University’s new 14-story Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center provides exceptional facilities for students studying medicine.

The project incorporates state of the art classrooms, a cutting edge medical simulation center that replicates clinics and other real-world environments, areas for collaborative study, and attractive outdoor landscaped areas and terraces.

Challenge

Buro Happold worked with the architects to deliver facade engineering for the education center. The high-rise building reinvents the conventional layout of a stacked floor construction by pairing the traditional classrooms and laboratory with a ‘study cascade’ design. This comprises a series of social and study areas distributed across oversized landings off the exposed staircase. This layout posed an interesting challenge for our facade engineers, with the classrooms located on the southern side of the building and the cascade on the north.

Columbia University, Vagelos Education Center
We used a frameless glass fin system supported by structural reinforced concrete slabs to render an elegant facade that draws daylight in. Images: Nic LeHoux. Courtesy of DS+R.

Solution

The north side of the building containing the social areas is enclosed by a glass curtain wall to optimize transparency. Our facade engineers used a frameless glass fin system, which floods the interior spaces with daylight. The high performance curtain wall responds to the changing seasons and time of day, controlling heat gain and in turn reducing energy use.

Adding further value, our team recommended the use of custom cast glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) instead of traditional concrete on the exposed areas of the structure. This creates sculptural slabs that are strong, lightweight and sustainable, and also achieves an elegant architectural aesthetic that is in line with the other buildings on campus.

Columbia University, Vagelos Education Center
The project incorporates a cutting edge medical simulation center that replicates clinics and other real-world environments. Images: Nic LeHoux. Courtesy of DS+R.

Value

Our innovative facade engineering was pivotal in bringing together all four schools of Columbia University Medical School under the same roof. As well as providing students with exceptional facilities, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center heralds a new future for the teaching and practice of medicine.

Awards

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