Critics Quiet on 65 Fifth Building Plans
When it comes to plans for the oft-delayed University Center at 65 Fifth Ave., where once there was adamant opposition among New School students and community members, today there is cautious optimism.
On February 17 and 18, The New School unveiled its plans for the University Center at 65 Fifth Ave., hoping to answer community questions about the building as well as to solicit opinions. While many of the questions asked could not be answered at this stage of the design process, building planners emphasized that they value the community’s input.
The first event, on February 17, was a presentation to Community Board 2 and was attended by neighborhood residents and board members. The second, on February 18, was an open house for students and staff of The New School, where designers and planners involved with the building displayed the projected floorplans and amenities, and answered questions.
The presentation for The New School showcased the current plans for 65 Fifth. Panels with projected designs for the interior of the building offered the most extensive picture to date of the future building.
Head librarian of Fogelman Library Ed Scarcelle explained the layout of the planned two-floor library, which will include group-study workrooms, a large quiet-study room, and a reading area outside the immediate vicinity of the library for use when the library is closed.
Scarcelle hopes that Fogelman will be the new go-to library and that in time students won’t have to rely on NYU’s Bobst. “A goal of mine is that The New School libraries provide the core resources for New School students,” said Scarcelle.
The presentation also displayed planned sustainability initiatives for the building. Some projected features will include solar-thermal water heating and greywater recycling, which re-uses nonpotable waste water.
The C.B. 2 meeting took place at St. Vincent’s Hospital and was well attended by Greenwich Village residents concerned about the impact the new building will have on the community. Roger Duffy, lead architect from Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, gave a brief PowerPoint presentation on the project. Duffy, New School spokesperson Jane Crotty, and New School vice president for design, construction, and facilities management Lia Gartner fielded questions during the question and answer session.
According to Duffy, the presentation was “pretty much the same show” as the presentation that was given to The New School's board of trustees in December of last year. Neighbors of The New School were most concerned with quality-of-life issues, from building noise and light pollution to plans for the building’s garbage collection.
Many were concerned that the building's exterior wouldn't fit in with the neighborhood's character. “There are many things about this plan that are positive,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation. “But the sketch feels not quite right for this area.” “I don’t want to see an extension of Midtown at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue,” he added.
Duffy, Crotty, and Gartner stressed that plans for the facade remain undetermined, as do many of the issues raised by questioners. However, they repeatedly mentioned that they were open to feedback and would contact people with individual concerns.
Both events made it clear that plans are still in development and subject to change. The projected opening of the new building is fall 2013.