The New School University Center

When The New School projected its growth over the coming decades, it became clear that its enrollment would outpace its current facilities. The largest building project in The New School’s history, the 16-story University Center stands as a new landmark on the border of the Union Square and Greenwich Village neighborhoods. A truly multipurpose building, the Center includes a suite of design studios and laboratories, dormitories, wired classrooms, and a versatile auditorium seating up to 800.

With various configurations seating 600 to 800 patrons, the auditorium is used for everything from lectures to film screenings to drama to fashion shows. FDA designed a system of stage lifts and seating wagons, which create a convertible runway for fashion shows, or additional seating for performances. A sliding partition can divide the last eight rows from the rest of the auditorium; the seats in those rows are telescopic and retract to create two 75-student classrooms at the rear of the room. Using the wagons and lifts, the stage can extend for more movement-intensive performances.

New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson wrote that the building “brings the school’s brand of sensitive boldness to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street” and called it a “distinctly urban building, respectful but not obsequious.”

  • Client: The New School
  • Architect: SOM – New York
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Acoustician: Shen Milsom & Wilke
  • Capacity: 800 seats


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