A 1939 photo of an atom-smasher (cyclotron) at Columbia University. Via Wiki Commons.
Most people assume that “The Manhattan Project” is a clever codename, a misnomer for the famous test sites in New Mexico. But, with over 1,200 tons on uranium stashed on Staten Island, and a nuclear reactor whizzing away at Columbia University, the top-secret wartime program began in Manhattan, and fanned out across the island, from its southern tip to its northern reaches, from its dimmest docks to its brightest towers. Ultimately 5,000 people poured into New York to work on the project, so duck, cover and get ready for an atomic tale of scientists, soldiers, and spies.
Learn all about the Manhattan Project in Manhattan
More than ten years after it was first proposed, the expansion of Columbia University into Manhattanville is finally coming together, with its first building opening on Harlem’s west side. While some residents worried the expansion would infringe on the Harlem community, the president of the university, Lee Bollinger, said the ongoing construction will result in roughly $6.3 billion in local investment. As the Daily News reported, the school paid $578 million to minority-, women-, and locally owned firms for construction work in the last five years. The project also created more than 1,500 construction jobs each year.
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Back in 2004, Diller Scofidio + Renfro unveiled their proposal to build a new facility for the Eyebeam Atelier/Museum of Art and Technology. Their winning competition bid resembled the insides of a mitochondria dyed baby blue and blown up to an extreme proportion. DSR presented a more poetic explanation, referencing a pliable ribbon where horizontal surfaces turned into walls and vertical planes slouched into floors. The ribbon’s thin divide would separate the production spaces of the museum from the presentation areas.
The project was never realized, but fast forward 12 years, after the completion of the firms’ well-regarded Lincoln Center overhaul and three phases of the High Line, and DSR has dusted off their undulating ribbons for Columbia University. Now that their Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building is nearly complete, their next set of wiggles are planned for a pair of academic buildings at the University’s now-under construction Manhattanville campus in West Harlem. Amounting to 460,000 square feet of space, the two buildings will be separated by a central outdoor green space, and their insides will house classrooms, faculty offices, lounge areas, and support spaces for Columbia’s Graduate School of Business.
Lots more renderings and details ahead
On a triangular lot, where north-skewing West 125th Street meets West 129th Street, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) and Dattner Architects have crafted a 56,000-square-foot, ship-like structure for Columbia University’s Manhattanville Campus. Known as the University Forum and Academic Conference Center, the three-story building will host academic conferences, meetings, and symposia. It will contain a 430-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, and gathering spaces. According to Piano’s page, “The building looks like a ship levitating above the light and transparent Urban Layer.” Its prow points westward and may be just small enough to sail under the Riverside Drive Viaduct and into the Hudson River.
More details ahead
- Happy Birthday NYC!: The city is 350 years old today. Dang NYC, you’re old. Find out the history behind how New Amsterdam became New York in The New York Times.
- Don’t Be A Sucker For Duane Reade: According to Scouting New York, you’re paying almost a $1 more there than at, let’s say, CVS. We all know you love getting those $5 coupons after hoarding 5,000 Rewards Points, but after reading the research Scouting New York did you’ll want to ditch that Balance Rewards card.
- These Kids Were Doing Something Useful While You Lazied Around This Summer: 25 high schoolers were finding ways to solve world issues this summer at Harlem Biospace’s HK Maker Lab. DNAinfo featured the whiz kids that spent six weeks at Columbia learning about biomedical engineering. So what did you do this summer?
- Why Harlem Is Hotter Than The Rest Of The City: No you’re not crazy; the city does have microclimates. WNYC reports that students and researchers at City College determined that “temperatures vary from one neighborhood to another depending on elevation, building type and other factors.”
Images: Duane Reade in Union Square courtesy of nyulocal.com (left); HK Maker Lab by Timothy Lee for DNAinfo (right)