ARCHITECTURE: Diller Scofidio + Renfro x Gensler Steps Up, Out, & Through

by Raymond Herrera

Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building, Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler have teamed up to design a new Medical and Graduate Education Building on its campus in Washington Heights, NYC. The proposed 14 story building will feature public spaces and stairways that extend beyond curtain walls, exposing those spaces and stairs to the public, and southern views of the city to it’s users.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

According to an article on Architect’s Newspaper, the building will feature technology-enabled classrooms, operating rooms, and other real world clinical environments, collaborative and quiet study spaces, an auditorium, student lounges and cafes, and multiple outdoor spaces. DS+R has dubbed the exposed facade the “Study Cascade.” The cascade of stairs and floating spaces is reminiscent of a Pachinko machine where brilliant professors, future doctors, and biomedical researchers are the metal balls. The high attention paid to the public spaces, and the stairways and passageways that connect them are intended to link its users as well, as Elizabeth Diller of DS+R describes the feature “Spaces for education and socializing are intertwined to encourage new forms of collaborative learning among students and faculty. ”

Diller Scofidio + Renfro


Construction will begin in 2013 and is scheduled for completion in 2017. They plan to use environmentally friendly materials, systems, and methods to achieve LEED-Gold standards for sustainability. With a solid design concept, a highly skilled and experienced team, and attention to the environmental impact the proposed building will have, unlike a Pachinko machine the only seeming gamble will be expected visits to the Chimichurry trucks by students and staff after late night cram sessions.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro