Looking to expand their campus, The Rockefeller University chose to build out instead of up and to add more than 1.6 acres of open space to their space-constrained Manhattan campus. The new landscape sits on top of the new lab building spanning the FDR Drive.
The new landscape takes inspiration from Dan Kiley’s 1956 campus with its clearly defined paths, refined material palette, and formal geometry, while championing a sustainable approach to planting, materiality, and river exposure. Native species create a lush textural landscape and high albedo pavements reflect rather than absorb the sun’s heat.
Buff cast stone walls create continuity with the limestone of Welch Hall, tying the new landscape to the historic core. The design takes full advantage of views to the river and the Queensboro Bridge encouraging strolling through a riverfront promenade planted with native Honey Locusts echoing Kiley’s precedent. Glass railings maximize transparency and connect the rooftop terrace to the river, which for the first time, becomes part of the campus experience.
The project also redesigns almost an acre of public esplanade adjacent to the Drive and installs a sound barrier. Designed with community input, The Rockefeller University will maintain this landscape in perpetuity.