April 27, 2001
Annual Report of the Physical Development Committee: 2000-01
The Physical Development Committee has considered a
number of issues this year.
- The proposed new building for the School of Social Work occupied
the most of our time. The committee early recommended the exploration of
alternatives to the 113th Street site, which would only house a
part of the school, and was pleased with the open-mindedness and
flexibility of the University in reviewing the possibilities. The final
decision, to locate the entire School in one building, with more floor
space than the two 113th Street buildings combined would have had, and
using the adjoining lot on 121st Street for housing for the School of Law,
with possible partial use of the existing building on 122nd for additional
Law School housing, seems to have satisfied all of the key interested
parties, including a community-based committee chaired by State
Assemblyman Edward Sullivan. We feel that’s quite an accomplishment!
- Faculty housing is contemplated for the site on the north side of
113th Street, and thus far thinking is along the lines of four
apartments per floor, perhaps ten floors, senior faculty in front, junior
towards the rear. The reuse of McVickar will also need to be planned,
likely for housing, but that is still substantially in the future, and no
details have been developed as yet.
- The proposed new building on the east side of Broadway between
110th and 109th streets also occupied the Committee’s attention. The building
will be used for commercial purposes on the bottom floors, a school on the
next several floors, and faculty housing above that. While the Committee
expressed some concerns about the nature of the school, and in particular
the limitations the University placed on efforts to explore possible joint
operation with the New York City public school system, we felt this issue
was more appropriately a matter for the External Relations Committee.
Confining ourselves to physical development issues, we Committee felt the
uses proposed for the site were appropriate. We will review detailed plans
when they are available.
- The Committee expressed major interest in possible University
developments at and north of 125th Street, with the
understanding that the dominant role in planning here belongs to the
community. The Committee walked the area and met with the vice-chair of
Community Board 9 at the end of its tour. We have heard and approved the
plans of the School of the Arts for the Prentis building on 125th
street and adjacent property. We were particularly pleased with the
efforts of the School of the Arts to link its development plans to the
interests of community groups involved in the arts, and we feel it
important to stress the involvement of such groups in current and future
planning for the building. Beyond that, we believe that there is
substantial potential for use by the University, perhaps jointly with the
community or others, of space north of 125th, but that we
should await the outcome of community initiatives there. If Columbia is
not invited to participate in planning and/or development of the area, we
should not press, but if we are invited, we believe the University’s
response should be favorable.
- There is some as yet inchoate interest in the northwest corner of
the Morningside Campus for a science center, but the site has many
difficulties, and exploration is at a preliminary stage.
- Preliminary consideration is being given by the University for
development within the Riverside South development project area off the
Hudson River above 59th Street. This would be a major decision for the
University, and we feel Senate involvement at an early stage would be
vital. We have been assured that, if and when the University’s
consideration moves to the serious stage, our Committee would be involved.
Our relations with the administration have been in
general excellent. In particular, Emily Lloyd, Executive Vice President for
Administration, and her staff, have been very cooperative. We thus have the
feeling that, on intermediate range issues of physical development, we are well
informed, and in a position to keep the Senate likewise informed. We do not yet
have quite the same feeling as to matters of long-term physical development;
that is, we do not feel like participants in a long-term physical planning
process, nor in the consideration of those major decisions that will impact
physical development in the long-term future, involving new campuses, Riverside
South, and other long-term priorities. We hope next year to focus further on
such long-term issues.
We should also mention our excellent and important
relations with the External Relations Committee of the Senate, under Prof.
Eugene Litwak. As our committee mandate in the Senate by-laws notes, many of
the issues we consider have significant implications of concern to that
Committee, and attendance at each other’s meetings, and some overlapping of
membership, have been very useful.
Peter Marcuse, chair