Lenfest Center for the Arts at Columbia University

Part of the new 17-acre campus for Columbia University in the old Manhattanville manufacturing zone in West Harlem, the Lenfest Center for the Arts houses venues for the School of the Arts, including a film screening room and two spaces for flexible performances and presentations, as well as an art gallery.

 

Maximizing Open Space

The 56,000-square-foot, eight-story building is located on a public plaza. WSP USA structural engineers were tasked with developing a structural system which would maximize open space and add flexibility. Our team devised a system using cellular beams, allowing spans up to 54 feet. These beams were left exposed and became part of the architectural aesthetic.

 

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Meeting Acoustic Criteria

Similar to the Greene Science Center building on the campus, for which WSP also provided structural engineering, the project had strict requirements to limit vibrations. Additionally, the Lenfest Center was designed to stringent acoustical criteria, most importantly in the theater and performance spaces. The task was made more challenging by the buildings location – it sits directly on top of the campus’ underground energy plant.