Dezeen Magazine

Iwan Baan photographs Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Vagelos Educational Building in New York

Photographer Iwan Baan has released new images of Diller Scofidio + Renfro's recently completed medical building for Columbia University, which trades a typical educational facility's "boring" horizontal layout for vertical organisation (+ slideshow).

Baan's photos include aerial shots of the new 14-storey building, as well as interior images and exterior perspectives.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

The structure, which opened in mid-August, is the New York university's first building entirely dedicated to the medical school.

On its southern facade, the architects included a "study cascade" – a continuous vertical circulation space that encompasses formal and informal areas for studying and socialising.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

"The planning has to do with separating people enough, but congregating them around features that are magnets to move to," Diller told Dezeen.

She described the organisation of this sequence as being driven by the attributes of the spaces within above other concerns.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

"The cascade's inefficiency is planned inefficiency," said Diller. "It's not about optimisation of every square foot, but optimisation of the quality of light and space that engenders creative and productive work."

Due to the site's limited footprint, the architects designed the building vertically.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

"Most educational buildings are sprawling, flat, and have double­-loaded corridors – classrooms to either side," Diller said. "They're very predictable, very logical, very boring."

"We wanted to use the restrictions of the site to make a space that's vertically structured in section, rather than planimetrically," she added.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

A large terrace at the back of the building is reserved for public use.

This green space features expansive views of the George Washington Bridge, as well as New Jersey's Palissades across the Hudson River.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

Diller envisions the outdoor space as a public gathering area.

"We see it as being a nice neighbour to everybody here and inviting people to this open space," she said.

Vagelos Educational building by DS+R

Dezeen spoke to Diller at the Vagelos Educational Building's inauguration, when the architect also criticised New York's spate of luxury skyscrapers.

Other projects by the New York firm include the recently-opened Broad Museum in Los Angeles, as well as the popular elevated High Line park in Manhattan.

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