Don't stop the press...

24 Feb 2010

Polshek Partnership Architects completes the final phase of the Newhouse School

Newhouse III is an expressive icon that joins two pre-existing buildings to complete the campus-within-a-campus and define a new identity for the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. The full expression of both Newhouse I, designed by IM Pei in 1963, and Newhouse II, designed by SOM in 1972, was never realised. Newhouse III architecturally completes the thwarted ambitions of the previous projects and announces the contemporary ambitions of this prestigious school.

Creating a respectful backdrop to Pei’s classically-inspired modernist temple, the east façade of Newhouse III completes the plaza. The west façade, unencumbered by historic context, is developed as an iconic sinuous and undulating form. Its gossamer-like glass skin, which changes dramatically in response to varied atmospheric conditions and fills the interiors with light, is a metaphor for accessibility and openness.

The new building rationalises the existing complex’s labyrinthine circulation system acting as a conduit to connect Newhouse I and II on all floors. A simple bar form, which houses classrooms, conference rooms and the mechanical and circulation core, is separated from the ribbon-like glass form on Crouse Drive by a three-storey, skylit atrium. A space for informal and serendipitous encounters among faculty, students and staff, this new interstitial zone functions as the social and communal heart of the School. Additionally, through this axial atrium, the campus at large is invited to circulate through the building and witness the energy and vibrant work-product generated by both faculty and students in this multi-disciplinary environment, with the flexible Collaborative Media Room functioning as a modern newsroom and activities supported by The Center for Digital Convergence.

Monumentally rendered in a silk-screened ceramic frit on the glass clerestory at the base of the glass ribbon, the First Amendment to the Constitution underscores the importance of freedom of the press to the Newhouse School and reminds all students that freedom of speech is the foundation of both a liberal education and a free society.

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