Columbia University Medical Education Building
New York, NY
An urban microclimate on the far northeastern edge of Manhattan, this landscape for the Columbia University Medical Center campus physically and visually links a new graduate and medical education building by DS+R to the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent Hudson River riparian corridor.
The design utilizes an evergreen windbreak to transform a harsh and exposed site into a habitable environment, mirroring the Palisades across the Hudson in a constructed, urban iteration of a vegetated cliff. Linear hedgerows define spaces along a gradient from public to private, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior, campus and street, and urban and riparian systems. The landscape design incorporates sustainable plantings and water management principals. Storm water runoff is collected from within the building footprint and used to irrigate native plantings, adapted to the site’s sun and wind conditions. This design creates a closed loop cycle where water is continuously recycled and reused.
Two intensive green roofs further evolve the site. A 425 sq. ft. elevated terrace becomes a calm and protected mosaic. The planting palette is derived from an early successional meadow ecosystem and modified to perform as year-round habitat. A second 10,225 sq. ft. intensive green roof transforms the location into an absorptive and permeable plaza. Once an entirely impermeable surface, this vegetated area delays and reduces the release of water into the urban stormwater system during peak storm events and nurtures riparian plantings, while evergreen trees serve the critical function of reducing winds. The resulting co-habitat shelters humans, wildlife and migratory birds in a modified ecosystem that produces year round texture, color and movement in the landscape.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro