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Green Property of the Month: CO|FXFOWLE designs 65,000 s/f projected LEED Silver building for Columbia University School of Nursing

Manhattan, NY - 2013-11-26

CO|FXFOWLE, the joint-venture of FXFOWLE Architects and CO Architects, is designing a seven-story building for the nursing school at the Columbia University Medical Center campus. The new building resulted from an invited design competition, and will provide 65% more space than the school's current location. Densely programmed to alternate educational areas with spaces for community outreach, the building will accommodate various styles of teaching and learning with specialized functions-simulation technology, research facilities, and student and faculty spaces-that reinforce the school's mission and pedagogy, resulting in an environment that will facilitate collaboration, interaction and clinical excellence. Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the School of Nursing is scheduled to begin construction in late 2014.

The site was originally master planned for the competition brief to contain a three-story building of 65,000 s/f. CO|FXFOWLE proposed an alternative approach of developing a seven-story building on approximately half the site, resulting in a more-compact, lower-cost, and more-energy efficient building while preserving the remaining site for future development.

The design conceptualizes the building as a visible "town square" that anchors the medical campus while also activating the street level and extending this activity into the neighboring community. Program elements are organized and stacked in relation to requirements for public access and natural lighting. Uses with connections to the public were placed on the lower floors, and more specialized academic functions occupy the higher floors. Areas that need daylight are located at the north and east perimeters and are surrounded by a layer of etched glass that brings in diffused light. Controlled areas, such as labs, research centers, and flexible office spaces, are at the core.

Creating connections and achieving flow were key design ideas for the new school. Starting in the lobby, a circulation "ribbon" connects all floors vertically within the school's conference and informal meeting/breakout spaces. The "ribbon" provides orientation from points inside and outside the building, energizes the interior, and creates a distinct identity for the school. The school's ground floor also includes a gallery, café, student lounge, a large conference room, and student services including financial aid and admissions, and a multipurpose community space.

The second and third floors provide simulation labs and faculty offices, conference spaces, student study rooms and informal spaces. Administrative offices and reception and conference areas occupy the fourth floor. The fifth and sixth floors include faculty offices, conference rooms, and breakout and study areas. On the uppermost level is a rooftop terrace flexibly-designed for student lounge/study space that can be used for informal student and faculty gatherings and special events.

The technical and simulation labs, which mimic hospital patient and operating rooms, occupy the second and third floors. Configured in exactly the same way as those at hospitals and other medical facilities, they incorporate responsive mannequins and other education technology. There are labs to prepare nurses for different situations they will encounter on the job, including large multi-bed labs, multifunction ICU/ED/Acute Care rooms, an operating room, and mock exam rooms for standardized actor "patients." Some labs feature simulation mannequins operated from adjacent control/observation rooms. There are also debriefing areas where students will view videos of their performance in the simulation labs and receive critiques from their peers and professors. CO|FXFOWLE worked with the School of Nursing faculty, staff, and students through a series of workshops to understand their functional and spatial requirements, course schedules, and projected growth in order to right-size the simulation areas and other areas within the building.

The FXFOWLE and CO Architects joint venture creates an alliance built on a shared dedication to collaboration in process, innovation in programming, and excellence in design. Bringing together expertise in a vast range of architectural typologies, CO|FXFOWLE offers new and current clients worldwide the benefits of both noted firms. The joint venture between New York-based FXFOWLE and Los Angeles-based CO Architects represents a genuine collaboration between the two firms in all project services, rather than the customary design architect/associate architect relationship. Formed in order to expand each firm's geographic and expertise reach, this joint venture differs from those that are created to blend qualifications for one specific project.

Although both FXFOWLE and CO Architects have worked nationally and internationally for decades, the joint venture will also bolster geographic access with expanded typology experience. While historically focused on different project types, both firms overlap in culture and philosophy. They share a commitment to sustainable design and are industry leaders in their use of advanced building and design technologies.

Each firm will maintain its individual identity and operations while pursuing new projects together as CO|FXFOWLE. FXFOWLE's strength in urban planning, infrastructure, commercial, cultural, and education projects complements CO Architects' extensive experience in healthcare, science and technology, medical-education, and civic typologies.




Exterior rendering of the new building at Columbia University School of Nursing - Manhattan, NY

Exterior rendering detail of the new building at Columbia University School of Nursing - Manhattan, NY