Annual Report of the University Senate
Campus Planning and Physical Development Committee 2009-2010

October 22, 2010

            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 main projects currently in progress are the Northwest Corner Building, the Baker Field-Campbell Sports Center, and the Mind, Brain and Behavior building. We met with a number of university administrators concerning various projects as discussed below.

Northwest Corner Building
The Northwest Corner Building (NWC) will be an interdisciplinary science building housing research laboratories for the Arts and Sciences natural science departments and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as well as a science library and cafeteria. It is expected to open in the fall of 2010. Eight current Columbia faculty are slated to move there along with new faculty. There are seven research floors which will have three research laboratories each. One floor will be shelved until further funding is available. This leaves room for 10 new faculty. There has been concern as to who will occupy these slots as well as the space vacated by the eight faculty moving to NWC. We met with Provost Claude Steele on this matter. There was a committee of science chairs who proposed an ambitious plan for the sciences at Columbia which was submitted to the Provost and the Trustees in Spring 2010. The Trustees are investigating the prospects of raising funds for the sciences. Provost Steele explained that there is a plan to occupy 85% of NWC and that roughly two-thirds of the faculty will be from A&S and one-third from SEAS. The funds, in particular for A&S, to do this are unclear. Some funds have been made available from the medical school to fund a position related to neurosciences; however, we were assured that this would be an appointment in a Morningside department. As we were concerned about the management structure of NWC, Provost Steele explained that he is exploring the possibility of having “divisional deans.” This would include a dean for the natural sciences who would coordinate hiring and other academic initiatives across departments.

As NWC will include a new library that will essentially combine at least the physics, chemistry, biology and psychology libraries, we met with University Librarian James Neal and Associate University Librarian Damon Jaggars about the plans for the new library. It will be 11,000 square feet on two floors and a mezzanine with 300 seats. Beautiful designs have been planned to mix space for desks, computers, stacks and some small meeting areas. There is an increasing emphasis on digital accessibility of the collections.

Mind, Brain and Behavior and Baker Field-Campbell Sports Center
We did not meet with the principals of these projects this year; however, there were presentations on both projects in the Trustees’ Physical Assets Committee meetings. Each is moving ahead with detailed architectural plans. Demolition for the MBB site in Manhattanville has been practically completed as can be seen on the site on Broadway and 129th Street.

Health Sciences Campus
We met with Lisa Hogarty, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Columbia University Medical Center, about plans at the medical center. She explained that under Dean Goldman there has been the implementation of a cost-sharing system, effectively charging chairs rent, that has resulted in recouping 45,000 square feet of laboratory space. This has put off the pressure to build a new research building along with the prospective opening of MBB which will house perhaps 50 medical school faculty. This has shifted the building plans towards providing better educational space. A medical education building, with 100,000 square feet, is being planned for Haven Avenue and 171st Street. Along with the changes in Hammer Health Sciences Building, this will greatly improve and modernize medical training at Columbia. In addition, a new entrance to the P&S and Black building is planned as well as converting the end of Haven Avenue (at 168th Street) into a plaza closed off to traffic. The expectation is that this will give much more of a campus feel to the medical school area.

Graduate Student Center
Student representatives initiated a study of the need for a Graduate Student Center (GSC) at Columbia. This has the full support of the Dean of the Graduate School, Henry Pinkham. The problem has been that space has not been made available for this function due to lack of space and priority over other aims. A subcommittee was formed to report on the need for a GSC. They have documented a strong desire among Columbia students for varied space for graduate student functions such as teaching instruction, career events and TA meeting spaces. Social functions would also be an important component to create a communal atmosphere where graduate students would value life at Columbia. A compelling argument is that most of our peer institutions (e.g. Penn, Cornell, NYU) have beautiful GSCs. Final details of this report and a proposal for the full Senate are being worked out and will be submitted this Fall.

Task Force on Campus Planning report
The Task Force on Campus Planning provided a detailed report on future planning for Manhattanville. During this year this committee has essentially been merged into the Physical Development committee which is now named the Campus Planning and Physical Development Committee. The Task Force report proposes a series of committees to represent various interests and constituencies at the University and a “blue ribbon” committee to advise the Provost on the value and priority of new projects in Manhattanville. We anticipate that there will be further discussion this year to implement a governance structure to more formally involve the University community and Senate in Manhattanville planning.

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. The amount approved by the Trustees for these major capital projects for 2009-2010 is $111.6 million, substantially lower than the $200 million range approved in the previous two years. (Note that this is not precise accounting and does not include the smaller projects.) The major projects noted here are the Northwest Corner Building and the Baker Field-Campbell Sports Center. The other ongoing major project is the Mind, Brain and Behavior building in Manhattanville where preliminary funds were approved in the previous year.


Major projects submitted to Trustees' Physical Assets Committee 2009-10 (>$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)

10/9/2009 (4 items)

Chilled water and process water rooftop plant at the Hammer Health Sciences center







12/11/2009 (7 items)

Construction of Northwest Corner Building







3/9/2010 (7 items)

Office renovations to the 11th, 12th, and 13th floors of the Allan Rosenfield Building, Mailman School of Public Health




State of good repair infrastructure projects for Columbia University Medical Center – 3rd quarter







6/11/2010 (9 items)

Departmental office alterations for the Morningside academic plan




Northwest Corner Building – 1000 level laboratory space for SEAS




Construction of Baker Field-Campbell Sports Center




Core research computer facility-computer center




State of good repair infrastructure projects for Columbia University Medical Center – 4th quarter