The New School University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue

Along with 61 Fifth across 13th Street to the south, the New School University Center at 63 Fifth is the first new ground-up construction on Fifth Avenue south of 14th Street in decades.  Replacing a generally undistingushed two-story building the design from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Roger Duffy features brass “clapboards” and ribbon windows that reference the sophisticated architecture of Joseph Urban’s exquisite nearby original 1930 building for the New School.

Concave glass-clad staircases intercut the façade, a roof garden is LEEDS Gold rating-standard and the brass clapboards are angled to deter pigeon roosting and reflect light down onto the street.  An 800-seat auditorium will offer both academic and public programming.

The New School University Center is a bit of an eye-opener for this stretch of Fifth, where understated Classicism has long carried the day – yet given its location and what it replaced, it’s easy to see it as more reflective of the culture and traffic of 14th Street, the city’s first major cross-town street and a literal cross-section of New York’s brash bohemia.  Positioned at a major urban axis and bracketed by older but worthy neighbors, it represents a memorable balance of presence and prescience.

Picture courtesy the New School.

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