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MAS Panel Debates NYU Expansion

Nearly 200 community members, NYU students and faculty packed the Scholastic auditorium Tuesday evening to listen to an expert panel debate NYU’s plans to add a significant amount of density to two Greenwich Village area superblocks.

To kickoff the evening, MAS President Vin Cipolla briefly outlined NYU’s plans to add nearly half the square footage of their ambitious 6 million square feet expansion plan to the Greenwich neighborhood. Following, the panel – moderated by HR&A Chairman John Alschuler — debated whether New York City’s neighborhoods could handle the continued growth of the city’s 110 higher education institutions and still maintain the diversity that has drawn these institutions and others to these neighborhoods.

Mr. Alschuler pointed out that one of New York’s most distinctive qualities is its ability to change, “NYC is not a museum environment, we change, morph and mutate. We are a city that has an obligation to grow.” With that in mind, Hilary Ballon, deputy vice chancellor NYU Abu Dhabi and professor of urban studies and architecture and Gary Hack, former dean and professor of urban design at The University of Pennsylvania, pointed out NYU’s significance to the city and its very real need to prepare for the future. Pratt’s Ron Shiffman countered this argument with the notion that institutions can have growth in quality and not in space.

There to represent the community, Brad Hoylman, chair of Manhattan’s Community Board Two, focused the discussion on what NYU’s plans would take away from the community- particularly in regards to the scarce amount of public open space. The discussion then turned towards what NYU could do to better engage the community and to what the city might do going forward to better balance the needs of large institutions with those of the community and city at large.

NYU’s application for their Greenwich campus is now under review by the Borough Presidents Office until April 12th. Email your concerns to the Manhattan Borough President at: bp@manhattanbp.org. After the Borough President, NYU’s application is expected to be heard by the City Planning Commission in late April and the City Council early this summer.

After spending over a year looking carefully at NYU’s plans for their Greenwich Village campus, MAS has developed a thoughtful position on the project, which can be found here: Position Statement of The Municipal Art Society of New York Regarding NYU’s Core Expansion