New “urban quad” puts New York design school on public view
The Sheila Johnson Design Center is a new campus center for Parsons the New School for Design that provides educational and exhibition space for the school at its Greenwich Village location. Designed by New York architect Lyn Rice with associate Astrid Lipka, the $14 million center is accommodated in basement level space that has been dramatically transformed into a vibrant “urban quad” created by combining the ground floor of four historic buildings and opening up the space to the street.
Previously a series of disconnected spaces, the new 32,000 sq ft center houses a major gallery, an auditorium, a student lounge, two additional galleries and street-front exhibition space. Rice opened up the existing spaces and created a double-height, sky lit, covered public space of aluminum, glass and raw concrete. A series of deep-framed bay windows provide a visual relationship to the street as well as seating and display areas for students at work. In the prominent corner space, a pivoting wall opens to define a student critique area with pin-up surfaces and two large sliding monitors placing the design process on view to passers-by on the street. The quad is further enlivened by super-sized graphics of student work which wrap around two of the elevator banks.
The Sheila Johnson Design Center is part of a larger planning effort currently underway at the New School to create a world-class campus for its students and the larger community.