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Andrew Weigand - Prof. Damon Rich - Syracuse University Urban Studio NYC - Fall 2010

One struggle in the West Village surrounds NYU: 2031 – a plan for the next 20 years of NYU. It calls for NYU to expand to compete with other universities, and includes proposals across the city. In NYU’s “Core,” the area surrounding Washington Square park, the plan aims to develop 2 million square feet of additional space, with most of the building concentrated in the southern superblocks. NYU has been located in the Village since 1832 when its first

South is home to Bobst Library, Tisch Hall, a Weaver Hall. Since the 1953 project began, acquired all three superblocks and virtually a have maxed out its F.A.R.) east of the Squar

To move forward with the NYU: 2031 plan, N ULURP (Uniform Land Use Redevelopment P process for developing the southern superbl on building a 4th tower on the site of the Lan

One struggle in the West Village surrounds NYU: 2031 – a plan for the next 20 years of NYU. It calls for NYU to expand to compete with other universities, and includes proposals across the city. In NYU’s “Core,” the area surrounding Washington Square park, the plan aims to develop 2 million square feet of additional space, with most of the building concentrated in the southern superblocks. NYU has been located in the Village since 1832 when its first academic building on Washington Square East, was finished. In 1922, Chancellor Elmer Ellsworth Brown predicted that the University would expand to surround Washington Square. Today, the fabric to the West of Washington Square is protected by zoning which limits NYU’s growth; undaunted, the University continues to expand and owns many of the blocks surrounding the Park, which residents fear will lead to a loss of the character which defines the village. Issues with NYU’s growth date to a 1947 proposal for a Law Center, followed by the 1953 Title 1 Urban renewal plans which created the superblocks to the southeast of Washington Square. This plan was met with passionate protest because one of the superblocks was designated for “academic use” for NYU. This block, on Washington Square


South is home to Bobst Library, Tisch Hall, and Warren Weaver Hall. Since the 1953 project began, NYU has acquired all three superblocks and virtually all property (and have maxed out its F.A.R.) east of the Square. To move forward with the NYU: 2031 plan, NYU began the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Redevelopment Plan) approval process for developing the southern superblocks. Initially set on building a 4th tower on the site of the Landmarked (in 2005) Silver Towers, NYU withdrew the proposal following protest from the community and architects Pei Cobb Freid. The ULURP application is still underway, and NYU still plans to create of 2 million square feet of growth on the two southern blocks, building on the site of the current Morton Williams Supermarket and between the existing Washington Square Village residential blocks. This planned development is the core issue residents and preservationists have with NYU’s growth; however, a series of disputes have flared regarding construction and renovation projects around the historic Providence Playhouse on MacDougal St. and Edgar Allen Poe House located on West 3rd St. Also contested were zoning and visual impact of the Kimmel Center for University Life and Center for Academic and Spiritual Life.



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“The University will expand to surround Washington Square Park” Chancellor Elmer Ellsworth Brown, 1922

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1 Brown Building (John Woosley, 1911)

5 Center for Academic and Spiritual Life

This building was once the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. which experienced a fire which resulted in the deaths of over 100 garment workers spawned increased worker’s rights, building safety standards, and the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. Once a landmark in village history, it has been subsumed by NYU’s Growth, and now acts as science classrooms.

2 Bobst Library (Philip Johnson, 1967-73) NYU continued to expand to the south in the 1954 Title 1 Urban Renewal. The first building to be completed on one part of the renewal plan’s “Academic superblock,” it was Designed by Philip Johnson, and at the time of its proposal in 1961, the massive volume of the library spawned protests from residents.

3 Washington Square Village (S.J Kessler and Sons, 1961) These housing blocks, the first project completed after the 1955 Urban Renewal which created the 3 southern superblocks. In 1957, NY Times critic Ira Freeman lamented, “The mellow old landmarks of Greenwich Village are rapidly disappearing beneath modern glass monuments...” Washington Square Village was the first major project affecting the character of the West Village.

4 Silver Towers / University Plaza

(I.M. Pei 1963-66)

Vacant from following the Urban Renewal project from 1955-1963, NYU then hired I.M. Pei to design 3, 275-foot towers for faculty housing. The towers were landmarked in 2008, and NYU, facing the landmarks committee and staunch community protest withdrew a proposal for a 4th tower as part of NYU 2031, but is still considering a building on the northwest corner, along with a “zipper” dorm and community building.

(Machado & Silvetti)

The center, currently under construction, replaces the former Catholic Center that was built on the site, and required a variance for bulk modification. Other concerns surrounding the project from residents addressed the street trees and landscaping adjacent to the building, which were removed for construction but will be replaced following the project’s completion.

6 Edgar Allen Poe House / Furman Law Center (KPF, 2006)

This new building, the Furman Law Center, faced lawsuits and protest over the demolition of the historic Edgar Allen Poe House and a Stanford White Townhouse which existed on the site. In the end, NYU removed the Poe house, retaining its façade, which was shifted 1/2 block and built around for the new 170,000 square foot Law School expansion.

7 Wilf Hall / Providence Playhouse (Morris Adjmi Assoc., 2010) This village landmark and off Broadway theatre was recently threatened by a NYU renovation/addition project, which sought to rebuild the Playhouse and surrounding NYU-owned Buildings. The facade and interior of the theatre were (mostly) preserved during the construction of the new Wilf Hall.

8 Washington Square Park

The park is undergoing its third overhaul, provoking residents over the centering of the fountain, tree removal, and delays. Elmer Brown predicted that NYU would one day surround the park, and his vision has been realized – the question a now is how far are residents, the city, and the university willing to go to expand or fight against expansion, with the park at the center of it all.

Superblocks: Urban Renewal and Discontent The University will expand to surround Washington Square.


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Community Board II is committed to do everything we can to ensure that NYU is not allowed to overwhelm our neighborhoods.

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Chancellor, 1922, NYU

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NYU recognizes the primacy of its Washington Square location. Its presence there is essential for its identity and mission ...

Title 1 Urban renewal projects designated certain areas as “blighted,” and allowed the city to claim that property for new development, displacing 53 residents.



Aubrey Lees

Commitee to Save Washington Square

In 1963, NYU purchased the southern superblock and hired I.M. Pei to design University Village, which opened in 1966. John Sexton

The two two southern southernsuperblocks superblockswere weredevoted sold to private developersdevelopments, with plans University for two to two residential residential University Village and developments, Washington Square Village.Village and Washington Square Village.

The new, residential “Tower-in-the-Park” developments were initially met with staunch protest; they stood out in the Village fabric, consisted of 3-4 storey townhouses at the time.

They're transforming Washington Square and changing the neighborhood's character by constructing buildings that are huge...

Greenwich Village is a fragile ecosystem.

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Elmer Ellsworth Brown

Public Affairs, NYU


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Elizabeth Hurley

NYU was given a parcel on Washington Square South. Following community opposition, NYU acquired the property in August of 1955.

In 1953, Robert Moses proposed a Title 1 Urban Renewal project for these 9 Blocks to the south of Washington Square Park.

Tisch Hall, designed by Phillip Johnson and home to the School of Business, opened in 1972.

Bobst Library, also designed by Phillip Johnson, Was initially proposed in 1961 and delayed by community protests.

Washington Square Village was finished in 1958. NYU purchased it in 1964. It now serves as faculty and graduate student housing


By pledging to build this elementary school, the university has done more than pay lip service to community needs, it has taken action that will make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of Greenwich Village families.

Warren Weaver Hall was the first building to occupy the Academic Block.


The proposed oversized, out-of-context development has no place on this site.

Scott M Stringer

Manhattan Borough President

The housing development slated for the southern block fell through following financial issues, and the site remained vacant until 1963.

A proposed 400’ tower on the Silver Towers site has been withdrawn following a letter from Pei Cobb Freid Architects

The Title 1 Urban Renewal plan carries with it a deed restriction which prohibits modifications or additional construction for 40 years after the completion of the redevelopment.


Charlie Eisenhood

The NYU Local, Student

To achieve this growth, NYU needs to go through the U.L.U.R.P. process to rezone their property from R7-2 to C6-2, and increase their F.A.R.


The rest of the residents of the Village suffer. There is no reason to walk through the block. [Washington Square Village] It feels unwelcoming. Simply put, it doesn’t fit in with Greenwich Village.

Andrew Berman

Executive Director, G.V.S.H.P.

A fourth tower is profoundly destructive of the landmarked entity because it closes a composition that was intended to be open and upsets the carefully considered balance between solid and void.

It’s widely known as one of the finest modern residential complexes in the City

Coles Gym was the last building to be completed under the urban renewal plan. As a result of the deed restriction, no construction could begin until 2021.

NYU hopes to add 2 million sq feet in 4 buildings; 2 academic buildings on the WSV block and housing, “community” facilities, and a hotel on the southern superblock.

I. M. Pei

Architect, Silver Towers

Robert Tierney

Downtown is too expensive... Dubai is too far.... Governors Island is too small...

...How about downtown?... ...Dahbi? ...Governors Island?

Well...begin work on plan U....

The Future? BLEED AREA


NYU has 160 sq ft of space per student,and a population of 40,000 students NYU 2031 calls for an increase to 240 sq ft per student.


This leaves us in a bit of a pickle. What should we do?

...What do you mean the ULURP didn’t get approved ?!....


President Sexton, I’m calling to inform you that the planning board is not going to approve the University’s ULURP.....


NYUnderground In order to work within its own property, NYU investigated excavating the 2.75 Acres Underneath Washington Mews, creating a “Bedrockscraper.” It carefully preserves existing facades while enabling the NYU to grow in its “Core” area.

After its Uniform Land Use Redevelopment plan fell through, NYU investigated extreme means to develop the core campus.

Additional “dark” space is devoted to programs such as theatres, gyms, and nightclubs.

The bedrock-scraper is carefully calibrated for optimum solar penetration. It’s depth also allows it to take advantage of passive geothermal heating and cooling.

Digging 22 stories beneath the historic townhouses and street, the University was able to create an additional 1.75 Million sq feet of space.

NYU Expansion Tour  

Tour of NYU's growth and explanation of current 2031 Plan and community concerns.

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