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SCUP Links
Curated content on higher education presented by the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).
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At the New School’s New Building, a Sign Isn’t Just a Sign

At the New School’s New Building, a Sign Isn’t Just a Sign | SCUP Links |
The “wayfinding” system of signs and staircases at the New School’s University Center, opening early next year, is designed to do more than get people from one point to another.
Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

“This is more about orientation than specific information,” said Mr. Marshall, who joined Mr. Baur on a tour recently. “As you move into the building, there are room numbers and specificity.”

The lettering has a three-dimensional appearance that plays on perspective to point people in the right direction. It is as though someone were shining a flashlight above the letters, and once you understand the system, you can tell which way to go from the way the letters face.

The letters differ from floor to floor, although the typefaces are all variations on a single font: Irma, designed by Peter Bil’ak. The lettering on the top floor has a deep shadow. The lettering on the ground floor has almost none.

“The idea is to give a tool for a place, a typeface for a place,” Mr. Baur said. “It’s a language which can be adopted in different contexts.”

Mr. Baur said the biggest challenge was not the staircases or the signs, but the “donor wall” in the lobby, with the names of people who had contributed money for the building.

“We never do that in Europe,” he said.

[faciities planning, wayfinding, North Atlantic, NY]

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We Need to Design Parking Garages With a Car-less Future in Mind

We Need to Design Parking Garages With a Car-less Future in Mind | SCUP Links |
Building adaptable structures will save time, money, and material waste.
Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

There's a growing belief among architects and designers that all urban parking garages should be built with these "good bones," which will allow them to be re-purposed in the future. For a variety of reasons, from higher gas prices to greater densification to better transit options, city residents will continue to drive fewer cars. As a result, we'll eventually require fewer parking lots. The ability to adapt a structure rather than tear it down will save developers time, money, and material waste.

"As the auto culture wanes we're going to have a lot of demolition to do, which is unfortunate," says Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. "If we're going to build these [garages] let's design them in a way that they can have alternative uses in the future. With just a few tweaks that's really possible."

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Commentary: The New School's Stairmaster

Commentary: The New School's Stairmaster | SCUP Links |

"Inside are some spectacular rooms, including a wood-paneled, 800-seat auditorium that will become a popular downtown event space. (The New School is the owner of another auditorium, one of the most beautiful in New York, in its art deco Joseph Urban building at 66-76 West 12th Street.) The most interesting feature of the new building is its stairwells. The facility, containing classrooms, a multi-level library, cafeteria, and 146 dormitory suites on its top nine floors, required multiple fire stairs. It also needed large, open stairways that students could use to get from class to class, and which could serve as gathering places (a la the stairwell in Thom Mayne’s Cooper Union building a few blocks away)."

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

This reviewer is critical of the design and its effects on the surroundings. 

The New School, a university that includes the Parsons School of Design, has long operated out of a motley collection of spaces in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Hoping to create a campus center, the school proposed building a 350-foot-tall tower on a site has owned since the 1960s, at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street. A tall, tapered building would have enhanced that crossroads. But facing neighborhood opposition, the school scaled back its plans, ending up with a structure that, at 16 stories and 178 feet, is so squat it looks incomplete—inadvertently suggesting that the institution lacks ambition.

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