BARUCH COLLEGE'S 17-STORY "VERTICAL CAMPUS" OPENS DOORS FOR CLASSES
-- A Turning Point in Urban Educational Design, the High-Tech Vertical Campus Creates Dramatic New Possibilities for Learning and Teaching
NEW YORK, NY, August 24, 2001 -- It's big, it's beautiful, and on first encounter it can boggle the mind. Nearly a full city block at its base, fourteen curving stories above ground (with an athletic facility and performing arts center extending three stories below ground), Baruch's new Lexington Avenue academic complex, known as the "vertical campus," brings together this most diverse College and student body with a unique combination of new technology and dazzling architectural design.
Taking up the block from 24th Street to 25th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues - a section of 25th Street that has recently been named "Bernard Baruch Way" -- the vertical campus opened its doors on Monday, August 27, for Baruch's first day of classes. The building which anchors Baruch's visual identity as an institution in the neighborhood, serves from 3,000 to 5,000 students at any one time, in more than 140 'smart' classrooms and computer labs. For the first time it integrates at one location all faculty and staff offices and most of the classroom space for Baruch's two largest academic units: the Zicklin School of Business and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences (Baruch's influential School of Public Affairs remains in its current space on East 22nd Street, though the address does change -- all of Baruch now resides under a single postal designation of "One Bernard Baruch Way").
This physical union of the business and liberal arts programs supports the undergraduate business curriculum, which requires an arts and science foundation for the degree; the first-time proximity of the two schools also creates a host of new opportunities for multidisciplinary classes, programs, and initiatives.
Designed by the architecture firm of Kohn, Pedersen, Fox and Associates and constructed by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the vertical campus building also marks a new approach to an urban educational facility. With nearly 800,000 square feet of space to work with, planners at Baruch have attempted in an urban setting to create the sense of open space and quadrangle design that characterizes the typical ex-urban college campus. Thus, a great deal of space has been given over to three stacked atria, one rising from the ground floor to the fifth floor, with a glass curtain wall facing Baruch's Information and Technology Building to the north, across Bernard Baruch Way; another, wider atrium rising above that, from the fifth to the eighth floor; and a third, against the southern wall of the building, that rises from the eighth to the thirteenth floors with a dramatic glass curtain facing south and giving views of all of lower Manhattan.
This design allows sunlight from the southern exposure to filter diagonally from the top of the building and along the southern side down to the ground floor entrance lobby and exterior plazas on the north side, along Bernard Baruch Way.
At the same time, each floor is designed as a quadrangle, with a mix of classrooms, research space and offices around the open atrium and with many open spaces and cul-de-sacs that are furnished with chairs and tables for conversation, reading, and hanging out between classes. This design unifies the teaching and research facilities as they would likely be encountered in the more traditional buildings of an ex-urban campus.
The building also brings to Baruch state-of-the-art instructional technology and media on a scale almost unprecedented in an urban academic center - 102 classrooms, 14 research labs, and 36 computer labs, each of which is fully wired and provided with a integrated computer and media lectern that links the instructional technology with ceiling projectors and allows instructors to deploy every teaching technology from the traditional "overhead" to the latest information management tools provided by PowerPoint presentations; live internet research; digital photography; video and audio playback; teleconferencing; and more. Technology costs per classroom range from about $25,000 for the typical 30- to 70-seat classroom up to $105,000 for a 500-seat facility.
In addition to the vast teaching space, the academic complex serves as a true campus hub, also a three-level sports and recreation center, a theatre and recital space, a 500-seat auditorium, another, 300-seat auditorium, a food court, and a dramatically expanded campus bookstore, which for the first time will be accessible, as a retail outlet, from the street. All in all, the new academic center and vertical campus houses 48 conference rooms; 375 offices for faculty; 39 offices for deans, department chairs, and program directors; 180 offices for staff; and 425 workstations for additional staff and adjunct faculty. Thus, Baruch College steps confidently into the realm of 21st-century information and knowledge management.
Said President Ned Regan, "This vertical campus has long been in the planning and was four years in the construction. Its opening now represents the heroic commitment of individuals at Baruch, at CUNY, and in state government, from the Dormitory Authority up to Governor Pataki's office, which has been very supportive and helpful. At every level, the people who have been involved have shown a commitment not merely to the creation of a building, but to the educational experience of Baruch's student body, which is the most diverse in the nation. These intensely hardworking students now have facilities in which to learn that equal those enjoyed by students at the best private universities in the land. The opening of the vertical campus therefore ought to be a moment of great pride for every citizen of New York."
Baruch began reinventing its campus environment in 1994, when the technologically advanced Information and Technology Building was unveiled after an extensive, award-winning renovation. Its centerpiece is the 1,450-seat Newman library, which provides the Baruch community with access to several hundred online databases, in addition to traditional holdings. Added in 2000 and located on the main floor is the Subotnick Financial Services Center and Wasserman Trading Floor, a 35-workstation simulated-trading environment offering students hands-on experience in complete trading activities.