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The Columbia Business School Gets A New Home – Where Business and Social Experience Meet.


These days, it’s not all just about textbook theory and lectures, as the main teaching method at business schools. Due to the changing nature of business and the increased viability of social media as a major source for information and interactions, business schools too are adapting to find ways to become more “social” to increase student engagement and learning to help devise innovative business solutions for the 21st century.


The new home for the Columbia Business School is based on an exchange of ideas and social interactions in different settings (formal and informal) combined with advanced technology. Student engagement with the surrounding neighborhood is also a fundamental component with each classroom having view to the exterior neighborhood and landscape.


Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School


It’s rare to have an opportunity to be able to expand in the highly populated area of Harlem, but after calling Uris Hall home for more than a half century, Columbia Business School has begun constructing a complex located on Columbia University’s new 17-acre Manhattanville campus.


To say the new buildings are conspicuous would be an understatement. Columbia Business School’s twin structures will span approximately 492,000 square feet with a 40,000-square-foot open area already nicknamed “The Square”. World-renowned businessmen Ronald Perelman, chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, and Henry Kravis, co-founder and co-CEO of the leveraged buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. donated large gifts towards the construction of the project. Kravis gave a landmark gift of $125 million, while Perelman provided a gift of $100 million for the complex. Both donors are members of the School’s Board of Overseers, while Kravis is a Columbia Business School alumnus. The buildings honor that generosity by naming the twin structures The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation and the Henry R. Kravis Building. The new facilities will host graduate-level schools and research centers.


Perelman and Kravis are not the only familiar names that will be attached to the project as the endeavor is a large collaboration of some of the best people and firms in the industry. Both structures are designed by the renowned New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio & Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with FXCollaborative (formerly FXFOWLE Architects) as executive architect. While obvious by the modern appearance in the renderings, the project is not about typical bricks and mortar. There is actually an underlying theme about transforming the School, business education, and the nature of business itself through both buildings integrated flows and expressions of form.

The school tapped Turner Construction as the construction manager but needed a trusted, specialized partner when it came to the sophisticated design and techniques for constructing the primarily glass outer appearance. The team selected W&W Glass as the overall facade supplier and erector who is teaming up with IDA International Inc. of Derby, CT to install the Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) portion of the building and AZA INT – responsible for design, engineering, and fabrication of the glass facade systems, which was the preferred Italian manufacturer selected by W&W.


Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School


W&W’s selection was based on the firm’s value proposition, bringing an integrated design assist approach and long successful track record in constructing other education facilities throughout the New York City area. Some examples of W&W’s work can be found at the Columbia University Northwest Corner Building and the latest projects at Cornell University’s new Cornell Tech campus at Roosevelt Island showcased by The Bloomberg Center and The Tata Innovation Center.

Both of these new structures at Columbia Business School include a very high level of system coordination and integration for their facades, combining multiple components, installation trades, and companies. There is a significant amount of Business Information Modeling (BIM) that is crucial to this project, as the facades at times bring together three different manufacturers’ products in the same plane. The bespoke design calls for an intricate meshing of glass systems, metal panel, and GFRC panels. The key manufacturers are located in different countries, with glass manufactured in Europe and the curtain wall systems manufacturer AZA INT fabricating products in northern Italy. W&W Glass and AZA INT had recently teamed up together on a New York City project along The High Line called The Getty, designed by Peter Marino Architect. AZA INT is specialized in complete, engineered facade packages. They develop and design unique facade geometries and building envelopes in glass, metal, wood, and other materials for customers.


The solution proposed to the team by AZA INT meets the design needs and stringent performance criteria required for this project. It was especially important for these products to have excellent acoustics to cut down on traffic/road noise, with the project site being located so close to the Henry Hudson Parkway. This performance was verified by third-party mock-up testing. That said, the high degree of transparency is certainly the blueprint of Columbia’s project and main goal. The fabricated glass products themselves will be sourced from both Germany and Spain, depending on the facade type. There are three different 4-sided structurally-glazed curtain wall types being used on the buildings:  a stick built aluminum mullion system, a unitized aluminum curtain wall system, and a unitized system fastened onto laminated glass/steel vertical mullions. Overall, the total project requires almost 162,000 sqft of curtain wall. In addition to the glazing systems, there are also varying-shaped horizontal bands of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) materials that will be made by DKI (David Kucera Inc.), which is located in Gardiner, New York.


Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School


Most of 2018 is being utilized for mock-up testing, engineering, and coordination of shop drawing details with BIM modeling between trades to alleviate potential conflicts between materials and to best understand how the assemblies merge together with all of the angles, planes, and curves.


Recognizing that creativity, innovation, and communication—skills that often flourish in more informal, collaborative environments—are as important to contemporary business school pedagogy as the traditional, quantitative skills best taught in a classroom, the building’s internal spaces are organized around two distinct networks that foster more informal interactions between the student and faculty of the school. The west building Commons is an urban–scale living room for students, faculty, and staff, while the east building Forum is a terraced interior landscape that doubles as a 300–seat lecture hall. Each network is a combination of circulation routes, lounge spaces, dining facilities, and study rooms that facilitate planned and unplanned interaction 24 hours a day. The excitement for the project is continuously building as excavation and foundations are underway, but the finished product is not scheduled for completion until 2021. Stay tuned for more information as the project progresses!


For more information on all the projects completed and underway by the W&W Glass professionals, go to and look under the portfolio section. W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.



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