Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center



Located in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, the 110,000 square-foot/10,000 square-meter Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center is part of the Columbia University Medical Center. Completed in 2016, the building reflects a paradigm shift in medical education from passive, lecture-based instruction to team-based problem solving, while simultaneously responding to the site’s narrow footprint and tapered zoning envelope. In contrast to the traditional, institutional nature of medical education buildings—characterized by low-slung ceilings, densely-packed programs, and double-loaded corridors— the 14-story glass tower’s ‘Study Cascade’ extends campus activity along the south elevation of the building with a diverse network of social and study spaces for informal learning and collaboration. The wide array of spaces—which include exterior terraces, a stepped lounge, individual study spaces, and a 275-seat auditorium—also produce oversized, occupiable landings on a continuous staircase that connects the activities of all four of Columbia’s medical schools. As a counterpart, the north elevation is dedicated to more controlled, specialized learning spaces that include flexible classrooms, anatomy laboratories, and a simulation center. These include both cadaver and simulation-based examination rooms designed to foster empathy for patients and precision through robotic training. The Cascade, in combination with the specialized classrooms and labs, offers students and faculty a range of spatial experiences, with opportunities to work alone or in groups, in public or behind closed doors, in light or shadow, during school hours or any other time of day or night.

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Project information
ClientColumbia University Medical CenterSize (GSF)110000
Location         New York, United States
Commission2010openingAugust 2016
Partner-in-ChargeElizabeth Diller
PartnersRicardo Scofidio,Charles Renfro,and Benjamin Gilmartin
Project DirectorGerard Sullivan
Lead DesignerChris Hillyard
Project ArchitectAnthony Saby
Design TeamChris Andreacola,Robert Donnelly,Joshua Jow,Matt Ostrow,Barak Pliskin,Jesse Saylor,Jack Solomon,Andreas Kostopoulos,and Elizabeth Wisecarver
External credits
GenslerExecutive Architect and Graphic Designers
Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA)Structural Engineer
Jaros Baum & Bolles (JB&B)MEP Engineer and Security and IT Consultants
SCAPE/Landscape ArchitectureLandscape Architect
Buro Happold Consulting Engineers P.C.Curtain Wall Consultants
Tillotson Design AssociatesLighting Consultants
Cerami & Associates, Inc. Acoustic/Audio/Visual Consultants
Milrose Consultants, Inc. Building Code Consultants
Jenkins & Huntington, Inc. (JHI)Elevator Consultants
2x4Graphic Designers
Thornton TomasettiCivil/Geotechnical Engineers
Weidlinger Transportation PracticeCivil/Geotechnical Engineers
Vidaris Inc. Sustainability Consultants
Cini-Little International, Inc. Foodservice Consultants
FJ Sciame Construction Co., Inc. Construction Managers
Group PMXOwners Representative
    Photography by Iwan Baan,Nic Lehoux,and Jenny Gorman