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Jill Lerner and Elie Gamburg Discuss the Vision Behind NYU Shanghai

The KPF Principals spoke with the university about the design process for the recently opened campus in Qiantan.

Beginning with the initial approach, Jill spoke about the team’s strategy to create an interconnected campus that fosters collaboration, rather than a series of “silo” buildings. “There are wide corridors, lots of places where you can sit, emphasis on stairs so people can move up and down and see each other,” Jill said. “Wherever you’re moving through the building, you’re looking out onto the courtyard. You can see across; you can see what’s happening. You feel like you’re part of this community.”

Elie touched on the bi-national nature of NYU Shanghai and how the team highlighted this characteristic through the inclusion of a central courtyard: “We began by looking a lot into the history of the two great academic traditions: the western ‘collegiate quad’ and the eastern ‘scholars garden’… Both traditions have the same latent tension – the idea of academic and intellectual seclusion but also this idea that a school is fundamentally a place for exchange, bringing people and new ideas in.” The two also spoke about KPF’s previous collaborations with the university, including the nearby NYU Pudong, and how this influenced their approach to designing a campus for present and future use.

The conversation continues with discussions of the project’s material palette, how the campus integrates with the surrounding community, and what each principal architect’s favorite spaces are on the campus. Read the full interview here.