The Lenfest Center for the Arts was designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop as Columbia University’s first presentation platform for its distinguished School of the Arts. It houses the new, more publicly accessible facilities of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery; the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room for film; a flexible performance space for theater, music, dance and cross-disciplinary productions; and a flexible presentation space for readings, lectures, exhibitions and symposia. Like the rest of Columbia’s new Manhattanville campus, the building is intended to be both a University-wide facility, drawing together students and faculty in all disciplines and professions, and a resource that is open to and engaged with the surrounding West Harlem community.
The Lenfest Center for the Arts is one of the three buildings that define the southeastern quadrant of the new 17-acre Manhattanville campus. The Lenfest Center is located between Broadway and 12th Avenue, immediately west of the campus’s new Jerome L. Greene Science Center (opening in spring 2017), and just north of 129th Street, from which it is set back behind the plaza known as the Small Square. Completing this initial ensemble of campus buildings is the University Forum (opening in 2018), which occupies the triangular corner at West 125th Street and Broadway. Like all other new buildings that will be developed for the Manhattanville campus, the Lenfest Center, the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the University Forum are glass-enclosed and open to the public at street level. Above street level, the predominant skin of the Lenfest Center is metal panel; of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, glass; and of the University Forum, prefabricated concrete and glass. The contrasting materials serve the different functions of the three initial buildings while also establishing the architectural palette for the campus.