NYU Shanghai is a cosmopolitan environment meant to introduce students to a greater variety of academic and cultural possibilities. The campus eschews the simple containing of specialists into silos of knowledge. Instead it creates an open and flexible armature for the generation of insights and sharing of ideas. As such, the campus can support innovative ways of teaching, world-class research, and a commitment to public service in order to cultivate globally minded citizens. The design of the campus reflects the cultural duality of the student body, which is 50% Chinese and 50% global. As such, the campus must play two roles. For international students it is a gateway to China. For Chinese students, it is a gateway to the world. (Both Chinese and Western architectural traditions make frequent use of gateway arches.)
The plan calls for the campus at ground level to feature four buildings arranged in a pinwheel so that gateway arches face north, south, east, and west (as students are brought from the four corners of the world). But as the buildings go up, they each cantilever so that the top five floors are united into a single building. Symbolically, this unification reflects NYU’s desire to unify their members into a single intellectual community across both national and disciplinary lines. Operationally, it reflects NYU’s desire to prevent academic disciplines from becoming balkanized.
A uniquely integrated planning process involved the translation of cultural values as well as program, schedule, and budget. Through dialog with both Eastern and Western stakeholders and experts, a number of distinctive Sino-American criteria were addressed: an academic program that will meet accreditation of both a US (NYU) and a Chinese university, satisfy both US and Chinese building codes, and meet two environmental criteria, LEED Silver and China Two Star.
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; also SIADR; ECADI; VDA; Longman Lindsey; Jacobs