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Sense of Place

Lowerre Family Terrace at Marymount Manhattan College (N.Y.)

Maximizing space in an urban setting
University Business, Jan 2009

WHY LET A ROOFTOP JUST BE A ROOFTOP? Officials at Marymount Manhattan, an independent institution of about 1,700 students with just two buildings on its Upper East Side neighborhood campus, transformed the rooftop of one building into an urban oasis.

? FUNCTION: The quad offers a natural respite for students, faculty, and staff.

? CHALLENGES: Students had no outdoor place to simply hang out, and it wouldn’t be uncommon to find them gathering in corridors, with dramatic arts majors practicing lines for their next performance. Also, the traffic pattern between the two buildings was cumbersome, explains Paul Ciraulo, executive vice president for administration and finance. A master planning committee recognized the potential for using one part of a multilevel rooftop, creating the feel of a sunken garden between two taller buildings, says Lori Kupfer, an independent architect who was contracted for the project. Unlike with a typical open outdoor space, the project team had to work with height restrictions due to zoning limitations, plus the need to reinforce the structure below to ensure the proper load capacity, notes Karen Quigley, facilities manager. They also had to consider the view and noise level for residents living in apartments on the top floors of the building on which the terrace would be built.

? SOLUTION: Luckily, zoning regulations didn’t weigh too heavily on the 5,000-square-foot space’s design, which features a combination of plantings and other garden elements, such as seating and a dramatic water wall. “The idea was to create a haven outdoors,” says Quigley. “Tranquility was important.” The water wall creates a soothing sound and will help keep the space cool in the summer months, explains Kupfer. To aid in comfort levels when it’s cold, the trellised area has radiant heat fixtures. The walk between buildings is also much easier now. Students can exit the third floor of one building, walk through the new quad, and then enter the library in the other building. “This roof terrace really becomes the heart between two student and faculty areas,” says Kupfer, adding that the next phase of capital improvements in the college’s $25 million “This Is the Day” campaign will be to create a new dining facility and lounge with an entrance from the rooftop. But the college community has already embraced the terrace, which can fit about 200 people at once. Ciraulo says the terrace has been active, even on colder days. Quigley proudly recalls initial reactions to the quad. “Students would stop and their mouths would open and they’d say, ‘Wow.’ It turned out even better than most of us had imagined.”

? COST: $3.3 million ($1 million of which was donated by alumnus Paul Lowerre [’81] and his wife Ursula)

? COMPLETED: Late summer 2008, after a year of design and construction

? ARCHITECT: Lori Kupfer (N.Y.)

? CONSTRUCTION OF GRADUATE STUDENT HOUSING AT EMORY UNIVERSITY IN ATLANTA. The university faced a shortage of housing for these students, with 5,000 enrolled but only 425 beds. A 201-unit, $27 million facility being built on university land has an August 2009 completion date. The developer is Campus Apartments.

? CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW WATERFRONT CAMPUS FOR GEORGE BROWN COLLEGE IN TORONTO, ONTARIO. With two Toronto campuses already, the development, to cost at least $76.5 million, will support growth of up to 4,000 new students per year. The two-block site will have two buildings and focus on health sciences programs. It will feature the college’s first student housing, with beds for up to 500 students. Expected completion is the fall of 2011. Waterfront Toronto is the agency responsible for transforming the city’s lakefront, a project that includes the new campus.

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