In a landmark redesign project that began in 2007, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University renovated its home at 1 Washington Place to reflect the innovation that has defined the School since its inception in 1972. In the first renovation project at NYU to achieve LEED Gold certification, a total area of approximately 32,000 square feet was completely renovated in 2007 and 2008. LEED is the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System™, and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Along with classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, the Gallatin space includes:
Gallatin's facilities were meticulously designed, utilizing faculty and student input, to meet the needs of its current and future community members. The space accommodates different types of learning and a variety of areas of study. Cutting-edge technology, open floor plans, event space, arts studios and environmentally friendly elements are all incorporated into the design.
As visitors walk through the doors of the Gallatin School on Washington Place, the first thing they will notice is Gallatin’s ground-floor presence. Complete with a lounge, reception area, art gallery and theater, the first floor of the School is not only a comfortable meeting place and information hub, but also a location for large-scale events.
The 108-seat Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts is used for a wide variety of events, including dramatic productions, dance performances, readings and film presentations. The theater space can also be used in conjunction with the adjoining gallery space to create a 285-seat multipurpose auditorium that accommodates a variety of larger-scale gatherings and signature School events, such as student orientations and the Albert Gallatin Lectures. The theater has a unique, custom-made retractable seating system that is on the cutting edge of theater design technologies, and the theater and the gallery space are separated by a retractable wall that can move to accommodate events of varying audience size. The gallery space is an area in which student and faculty artwork is displayed throughout the year.
The Student Activities Area is dedicated to the pursuits of student groups such as the Gallatin Student Council, Gallatin Arts Festival and all School clubs. In close proximity to Gallatin’s Student Affairs and Student Life staff offices, this area includes club offices and student meeting rooms, as well as multifunctional areas for students to gather for intellectual and social interaction.
As you move upstairs to the 4th, 5th and 6th floors of the building, community and flexibility characterize the layout. The design is open to foster connections and welcome various audiences, with unique gathering places for students and faculty to collaborate. The overall intention is to create a sense of community—an important element of any school, but even more so in a program of individualized study, in which students’ and faculty’s interests may send them in divergent paths across the University.
The 4th, 5th and 6th floors house classrooms and offices, as well as a Faculty Area, Arts Suite, Student Activities Area, colloquium room, advising center, writing center, computer lab, student lounges and galleries and several “signature spaces.” All of the academic areas are equipped for a specialized environment that encourages interactive learning. Throughout these floors and the rest of the Gallatin building, state-of-the-art technology complements and defines the setting. The entire School has wireless Web access, and all classrooms, gallery spaces and meeting and conference rooms have permanent audio visual components and projection capabilities.
The Arts Suite reflects the prominence of the arts in the Gallatin curriculum, provides much-needed room for student activities and contains arts faculty offices. The Suite is home to a large rehearsal studio equipped with an audiovisual system, sprung-wood floor, full height mirrors, dance barre and curtains that can turn the studio into a screening room, classroom or theater rehearsal space. The Suite also includes an arts studio, which will offer an open workspace and suitable equipment conducive to the creation of art in various media. The arts studio could also serve as a venue for workshops conducted by visiting artist/scholars.
The Faculty Area serves as a hub of both formal and informal exchange between faculty and students. Faculty-student advising relationships are supported by the space, because it not only allows for one-on-one meetings in more comfortable, appropriate facilities, but also encourages more casual, unplanned interactions between faculty and students, and has the capacity for meetings between faculty and small groups of students.
The southeast corner on each floor contains a “signature space”—a multipurpose room that can be used for classes, meetings, seminars, lounges or events. Signature spaces have flexible furniture to accommodate these different scenarios, as well as technological capabilities to support a range of activities. Student lounges have computer kiosks and projection capabilities, and they also act as galleries for student work. These features make the lounges suitable spaces for events and gatherings, such as the Gallatin Coffee House Series or Writing Program readings. Each floor has two or three large areas where people can congregate, in prime locations, increasing student awareness of Gallatin programming.
Because the Gallatin School has a commitment, as a responsible member of the global community, to environmental sustainability, several “green” elements are included in the space. The school’s HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Cooling) systems are highly efficient, and the entire site contains energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Offices, classrooms and lounges are equipped with Greenline furniture that is made from renewable or recycled materials. Gallatin has been able to reduce its water use by 20 percent. During the demolition and construction phase, all debris was sorted and taken to recycling centers—something that had not yet been done in any other renovation project at NYU. All of these elements were included in the renovation in an effort to reduce the School’s environmental impact.
Associate Dean for Finance and Administration Linda Wheeler Reiss, who oversaw the renovation project, states, “Gallatin’s student body has a strong interest in making our new home an environmentally friendly one. This is an objective I’m committed to as well, and I am delighted that this project promotes the School’s and the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability. This initiative sparked wider conversations about how Gallatin can take the lead in environmental issues, and we are working with a team of students, faculty and staff to promote recycling, energy conservation and other practices to conserve environmental resources in our space.”
But beyond all of the blueprints, renderings and plans, what Gallatin has achieved is more than just a changed physical structure.
“Space has a transformative nature,” states Gallatin professor Ali Mirsepassi. “Through meetings with students, faculty and staff we gauged our needs, and the project was entrusted to wonderful architects renowned for their high-level designs. Our School identity and community have been strengthened, our academic offerings and extracurricular programming have been enriched, and our students and faculty are thriving.”