As we become a denser civilization, the imperative is to build higher. In our K12 practice, modern three story schools in the Pacific Northwest, once rare, are becoming more commonplace as land gets more precious. Often we are asked how we can maintain a sense of connection when schools become layered vertically. The fantastic new Vagelos Education Center by Diller Scofidio + Renfrew at Columbia University Medical Center in New York boldly addresses this question.

Our JUST ONE THING this week is vertical connection. Their ‘study cascade’ arranges public spaces that wind their way down the building, including a sky lounge, exterior terraces, intimate lounge-style study spaces, student commons, multi-purpose auditorium, ground floor café, and street level lobby.


The bold expression of the undulating pathway invites students to forego the elevator & explore the building while providing exciting views of the city beyond.

As an object in the urban landscape, life and movement in the building is clearly visible to the city, a great counterpoint to the many sterile towers in Manhattan.

Links: ArchDaily, DS+R

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