The new NYU Shanghai campus forges connections between academic and local communities and translates cultural values alongside programmatic needs, representing the institution’s mission to provide a gateway for Chinese students to the world and international students to China.
Situated in the growing Qiantan district of Shanghai, the campus occupies a 15,000 square meter block bordered by residential and office towers to the north, a highway to the south, and significant public transit within a five-minute walk. Through dialogue with both eastern and western stakeholders and experts, the KPF team addressed a number of distinctive Sino-American criteria within the site, such as integrating NYU’s mission to provide a liberal arts education with the Chinese desire for more specialized programs. Additional research on successful examples of cultural integration confirmed the need to organize the campus in a loop of related program to further these interdisciplinary relationships.
The resulting campus design comprises a pinwheel arrangement of four different buildings, producing a ring of diverse, collaborative spaces and organizing a variety of outdoor scales from expansive quad to intimate alcove. These contrasting qualities of inward courtyard and external façade evoke fundamental ideas of academic landscapes cross culturally, from European abbeys to Chinese gardens. This massing approach also breaks the buildings into distinct, shifting bars that connect through atria from floor to floor and flexible circulation spaces. Rather than separating programs into distinct buildings—which would result in “siloed” academic communities—the campus program is stacked vertically, creating layers of teaching, research, cultural, and faculty office floors that extend across the whole campus.