The Forum at Columbia University was recognized with a Merit Award in the 2019 AIANY Design Awards. In this year’s competition, there were five distinct categories: Architecture, Interiors, Urban Design, Projects, and a new addition, Sustainability. While the architecture class is specific in distinguishing design excellence in completed buildings, the entire awards program gives praise to architects and clients that push the boundaries and take risks.
Among 27 winners, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Dattner Architects-designed Forum was applauded for navigating a challenging site in an innovative and simple way.
Opened in the fall of 2018, the Forum completes a triad of new buildings, complementing the neighboring Jerome L. Greene Science Center and Lenfest Center. Serving as a welcoming and transparent gateway to Columbia University, the glass-enclosed Forum is a highly visible and iconic component of campus.
Jury members mentioned overall themes amongst the Design Winners – the important connection to the site and being a “good neighbor” to the surrounding community. The Forum’s ground floor flexible spaces establish an “Urban Layer” and are designed to encourage thought-leaders and scholars from across the university and the world to come together to share ideas. The new facility spaces are open to the Morningside Heights community, creating an important connection between the neighborhood and the City.
This new academic conference center provides much-needed education and civic engagement space as well as a shared resource for students, faculty, and the local community. The multipurpose facility features a state-of-the-art auditorium, break-out and meeting rooms, faculty offices, and open gathering spaces, including a public garden, café, and information center. The auditorium, whose function requires opaqueness, is expressed with a prefabricated concrete skin, whereas the offices, which require daylight, have a glazed façade, and the transparent ground floor both conceptually and physically openly blends to the public.
The Jury commended the Forum’s “modest expression of the interior life of the building.” We are proud to have collaborated on such an important and lively project.