Annual Report of the
University Senate Physical Development Committee

            The committee continued its practice of reviewing the reports of the administration to the Trustees Physical Assets Committee. This includes resolutions to fund various building projects and allows us to understand building plans at a relatively early stage in the process. A summary of major projects is included below and in the attached table. The committee was also active with the Task Force on Campus Planning on reviewing planning for Manhattanville and for space freed up on other campuses of the University by moves to Manhattanville. The report of the Task Force recommending processes and considerations for planning Manhattanville projects is being prepared.

During the year we met with David Greenberg, VP for Finance and Administration, on projects in the Morningside campus and with Lisa Hogarty, Chief Operating Officer of the Medical Center, on projects at the Medical Center. Key projects are discussed below. We also met with Carol Shuchman, Director of Commercial Leasing, due to concerns of some Senators about leasing of retail space around the Morningside campus. Ms. Shuchman, along with Joe Ienuso, EVP for Facilities, explained the considerations that Columbia uses in making leases. In general they prefer local merchants vs. national chain stores. They try to work with merchants to maintain a broad variety of services. They try to balance a tradeoff of stability of tenants and higher rents. They also note that Columbia does not control all properties in the area and is therefore not responsible in any way for many stores.

We also met with David Hirsh, EVP for Research, on progress of the Northwest Corner Building. This interdisciplinary science building is progressing nicely and is expect to open in Fall 2010. Dr. Hirsh explained the planning for the lower floors that will include a café, science library and classrooms. Floors 7-13 will house laboratories bringing together scientists from fields across the university. (Floors 10 and 11 were not to be outfitted initially, but this may change if NIH stimulus or other funding becomes available.) Eight existing faculty have so far been designated to move to the building. Roughly 10 others may be hired or move to the building. The new science and interdisciplinary interactions anticipated in the building make this a very exciting project for Columbia.

Regarding another science project, we met with Thomas Jessell, Claire Tow Professor of Motor Neuron Disorders in Neuroscience and Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, who will be Director of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Building to be built in Manhattanville. Prof. Jessell explained some of the history of the development of neurosciences at Columbia. The new building will bring together many neuroscientists at the medical center as well as many new investigators. The planning stage is still relatively early with the building anticipated to open Spring 2014. Nevertheless, it is clear that this will be an enormous project and make Columbia an international center for the study of neurosciences. The 12 story building will house as many as 75 laboratories. Roughly 50 current faculty are anticipated to move there. There will also be three undergraduate classrooms, a science education center and an outpatient clinic for autism, aging, dementia and other neurological diseases. Shops and cafés are also anticipated. Plans are being made for guest scholars and artists to interact with the permanent staff. This also seems a fantastic project though the planning mechanisms and decisions for exactly how it will be accomplished remain to be worked out. This will be shifting into higher gear now that all the governmental approvals have taken place.

A summary of the major projects on the Morningside campus is as follows:

  1. The Northwest Corner interdisciplinary science building is progressing with opening expected in Fall 2010 (as described above).
  2. Renovation of the Journalism Building is nearly complete.
  3. University Development and Alumni Affairs has moved to a renovated McVickar Hall (effective late 2008).
  4. Baker Field: a new field house is being built and the old one is being renovated.
  5. Knox Hall at 122nd Street in Union Theological Seminary has been leased and is being extensively renovated. Of note are four 2000-foot deep geothermal wells to provide energy for the building. The Departments of Sociology and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures will move there as well as Regional Centers for the study of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
  6. Four infrastructure projects on the north campus will improve the boiler, electricity, chiller and emergency generator capacities.
  7. The Faculty House renovation is scheduled for completion in Fall 2009. This will provide extensive new and modernized space for events at Columbia.

At the Medical Center the renovation of the lower floors of the Hammer Health Sciences Center is providing better space for medical education activities albeit with a small medical library. Otherwise there are many renovation projects in the existing buildings for new chairs and moves of faculty as described in some of the Trustee’s reports listed in the attached table.


Summary of reports to the Trustees Physical Assets Committee
The major projects approved at the four Trustee meetings are listed on the attached table. Only projects where the final expected cost of the entire project was greater than $5 million are listed. Manhattanville projects are highlighted in gray. The amount approved by the Trustees for major capital projects was roughly the same as in 2007-08, in the $200 million range, such that a reduction in investment due to the economy is not apparent. The Morningside campus projects are mostly described above. The projects at the medical center (below the Manhattanville projects in the table) list different renovations of laboratories, clinical offices and state of good repair projects. In addition, the façade of the Bard Residence Hall is being repaired.

Major projects submitted to Trustees' Physical Assets Committee 2008-09 (>$5 million total expected cost)





Date of report       (total no. of items requested for funding)

Current Project

Current cost requested (millions)

Total project expected cost  (millions)

10/10/2008 (15 items)

Knox Hall, demolition, construction




Morningside Campus electrical service upgrade




Morningside Campus central plant improvements, power house chiller plant upgrade




Morningside Campus emergency generator




Manhattanville, phase I open space, design phase




Manhattanville, central below grade facility, phase I and II, design and construction documents




New office for opthalmology clinic, 111 East 56th Street




Medical Center, state of good repair infrastructure projects




Bard Haven Avenue Towers Buildings, exterior façade repairs




School of Public Health renovation of first floor to support neurological imaging research




Physicians and Surgeons Building fourth and fifth floor renovation of laboratories for the Motor Neuron Center







12/12/2008 (5 items)

Renovation of the William Black Building 16th Floor and the Partial Renovation of the 16th floor of the P & S Building for the Mailman School of Public Health 




Medical Center, state of good repair infrastructure projects







3/13/2009 (8 items)

Baker Field Chrystie Field House renovation, design and construction phases




Morningside Campus Central Plant, electrical service upgrade




Morningside Campus Central Plant, power house chiller pant design/build phase




Bard Haven Avenue Towers Buildings, exterior façade repairs




Medical Center, state of good repair infrastructure projects







6/12/2009 (14 items)

Baker Field Campbell Sports Center




Mind, Brain and Behavior, Design Phase




Physicians and Surgeons and William Black Buildings, 12th Floor, Depts. of Pathology and Physiology, Construction phase




Physicians and Surgeons and William Black Buildings, 16th Floor, School of Public Health, Construction phase




Vanderbilt Clinic, College of Dental Medicine, 12th floor




880 Third Avenue, Ophthalmology Clinic (replaces proposal for 111 E. 56th St.)




Medical Center, state of good repair infrastructure projects