ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY RIVER BUILDING | The Plan
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ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY RIVER BUILDING

Rafael Viñoly Architects

What was the motivation behind this new research building at The Rockefeller University in New York City? Andrea Lamberti: In recent years, enhancing collaboration among research scientists is considered essential to advancing scientific research. This is particularly true at Rockefeller University, where there are no departments to encourage communication. At Rockefeller University, each Head of Lab reports directly to the President. This coupled with the fact that many of the University’s buildings are at or near the end of their operational lives and are unable to meet the needs of a modern laboratory space, posed a challenge to the University’s commitment to research and graduate education in the sciences. The River Building was designed to promote collaboration, to provide state of the art research space, to connect the campuses disparate buildings and to provide 8,000 sq. m of green area to the University campus. Recognizing the need, the University’s trustees commissioned Rafael Viñoly Architects to develop a master plan to analyze the extent of the requirements, consistent with the intention of maintaining the current scale of the scientific environment and fostering physical and intellectual interaction. The university’s desire to maintain a strong relationship with the community served as the baseline in the firm’s approach to the master plan, which led to: the decision to maintain a low building profile and utilizing existing air rights over the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive (FDRD) to preserve the majestic landscape and not impede views of or from Manhattan; and the plan for the university to grow gradually over time, rather than undergoing a rapid expansion. Tell us about its design. A.L.: The University’s approach to slow growth directly informed the siting, massing and design of the new state-of-the-art, 16,722.5 sq. m research building, which is the centerpiece of a phased development that will further...

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