Manifest Destiny: Inwood Edition

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Take a left at 218th

Columbia has been planning an upgrade to Baker Field for months. Those plans have solidified– sorta– in the form of a 70-foot aluminum building, reports the New York Times. The building will add to go up within the 26 acres Columbia owns around 218th Street in Inwood, which is even farther uptown than Manhattanville!

The new building will provide athletes with more study space for in-between and before practices, as well as office space for coaches. The blueprints were designed by Steven Holl, a professor of Architecture at Columbia. It will be called the Rep. Charlie Rangel Sports & Recreation Facility the Campbell Sports Center.

Columbia is expanding, so people are angry. Gail Addiss, an Inwood resident and architect, told the NYT that the Campbell Sports Center will cause “glare” and “more brightness to reflect into people’s windows.” Other Inwood residents fear that the modern design will clash with the surrounding buildings, clog up traffic, and obscure views.

Columbia is also planning a 1-acre marsh between Baker Field and Inwood Hill, along with a boardwalk developed by the same company that created the High Line downtown.

Joseph A. Ienuso, executive vice president for facilities at Columbia, combats the traffic argument by reminding Inwood residents that “This isn’t Notre Dame. On a good day, 2,000 people come to the game and most of those by subway.”

Athletes, plebeians, what think you?

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  1. Anonymous

    1) Capacity of Baker Field: 17,000. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
    2) The proposed building is god-damn ugly. ( Why do we keep on planning ugly ugly deconstructivist buildlings?

  2. cc

    I hate how "locals" always oppose anything Columbia does to expand. Where I am from the chamber of commerce gives away land and taxes breaks right and left in an attempt to get large corporations with stable pay and hundreds of jobs.

    I'm all for protecting the rights of the little people, and the whole Manhattanville thing did make Columbia look pretty damn sketchy. But anytime Columbia announces anything there is always a community board or group of activists waiting with bated breath.

  3. Anonymous

    the new building will "cause glare?" Fuck you Inwood resident. Give me a break. Buy some goddamn blinds, or curtains or something

  4. Alum

    "The building will add to the 26 acres Columbia owns around 218th Street in Inwood...."

    No it won't. It's going to be built within the existing 26 acres. It will be at the southeast corner of the Baker complex, where a cinder-block service building now stands.

  5. NIMBY

    So many people's financial aid got cut. I really think Columbia should focus on maintaining what they have (the students and getting rid of that god awful lerner) instead of snatching up properties and redeveloping.

  6. Woah

    That building is hideous. Looks like a shiny prefab on stilts.

  7. (Former) athlete

    This building has the potential to be extremely valuable to CU athletes. Definitely a necessary addition if Columbia is committed to improving its teams. It will make it much easier for student athletes to spend more time at Baker and still get their studying done. Well done Mr. Campbell, well done.

  8. commentariat

    manifest destiny? not really accurate when columbia is building on its own land.

  9. ...

    so wait, let me get this straight... when i get shitty finaid, it's because despite the fact that columbia has a huge endowment, funds are restricted. but when a very vocal yet tiny minority at columbia wants a five story designer clubhouse, suddenly the coffers spring wide open?

    as far as i'm concerned, they can build their ugly clubhouse that will shit up the neighborhood. just as soon as they finish fundraising every last penny they will use to build it. i won't even have access to the damn thing, why are my tuition dollars being wasted on such extravagance for a tiny, yet vocal minority that already receives special concessions?

    (that said, if they did fundraise every last penny on their own... then go ahead, build the clubhouse)

    • haha pwned

      so you got your finaid cut, blah blah blah, what you should do is write a snarky letter to your finaid officer and demonstrate why it shouldn't have been cut, if that's what the truth is.

      further, i have read about this thing for a while, it has been on the facilities website for a while, and this has just surfaced coz it was a slow NYT newsday? the thing has already been funded by Bill Campbell, who was former CEO of Intuit, the people that bring you TurboTax and Michael Cera's favorite, Quicken! etc.

    • Yup

      I know! Columbia gives Athletics tons of money and such preferential treatment! Thank god the Spec did an expose on this a few years ago: and

      Seriously, we treat Athletics like a DIII school (not that I care; my athletic involvement goes as far as drunk ultimate frisbee and I sure as fuck didn't come here for the sports teams). But when our fields are 5 miles from our campus, I think we can afford to throw them a bone. Kluge pledged $400 million specifically for fin aid, so I don't think athletics are stealing our fin aid money. Columbia's just stingy.

    • Alum

      Columbia has many parts, each with their own revenue streams and (in many cases) shares of the endowment. Some have more money than others. That one part is doing something expensive does not imply that other parts are helping pay for it.

      Bill Campbell donated enough money that CU can put up this building. I don't know if his donation paid for the whole thing. Other donors probably helped. And part of the building may have to be financed through bonds, which is how most buildings at most universities are funded. None of the money is coming out of the financial aid endowment or its other sources of money.

  10. Biggie

    The whole area's a shitshow; I think that the fact that people bother to complain is characteristic of the same traits that ended them up in Inwood (is that even a thing, Inwood?)

  11. seriously

    This has been on WikiCU since June. And as for the complaints about Fin Aid, donations can be purpose specific. Athletics has had its own sub-campaign as part of the big drive Columbia's had the last half-decade. And furthermore, the endowment isn't a giant pool of money. I'm willing to bet a significant portion of it consists of dedicated funds for particular items, e.g. professorships, programs, scholarships, etc. (those of you with named deans scholarships, those names are from funds designated for financial aid.)

    Despite having a fraction of Harvard's endowment, Columbia decided to enter the fin aid arms race that the Crimson launched a few years back. Then the markets crashed, taking endowments with them. And Columbia's been expanding enrollment. So you do the math: endowments down, commitments up (more students + more guaranteed aid, and many parents have probably experienced job loss or income reduction as a result of the recession). What does that spell? Cash Crunch. I don't envy the people in financial aid right now.

    • Alum

      Believe it or not, expanding the College helped the financial aid budget more than it hurt. Yes, some of the additional students need financial aid. But most don't. The tuition they pay is more than enough to cover Columbia's share of the added financial aid burden, while still funding added sections of CC, Lit Hum, etc.

  12. hey bwog

    aren't you gonna cover the columbia student that got published at the times:


  13. disappointed Lion

    More hating on the the bwog. god what a nasty bunch of posters came out for this one. get a life all of you athletics haters, and realize that there are people on campus and "old" grads who appreciate all the teams.

    Moreover, Bill Campbell who funded most of this project was football coach and a player on the 1961 football team that won the Ivies.

    Inwood residents can suck it, they are only bitching for the possibility of being paid off.

    I say, more money to athletics, the better.

  14. Seaman Drake

    The article is a complete mess, for three reasons:

    1) Going to retired 60 year old residents for a critique on a not-yet-fully-designed starchitect structure across the street and finding out they don't like it is hardly "news". I could have written the same story in 1930 about locals not liking that tall modern thing on 34th St that they were going to tear down the Waldolf-Astoria for. The writer gave the local cranks way too much press. Discussing the design of the building at all is mostly tilting at windmills anyways - nothing anyone can or should be able to do about it. The point here is that rather than leave to a couple cheapo or internal architects, Columbia actually went out and hired someone expensive, respected and intelligent ones. Bravo. I live in an old building myself and like that style just fine, but if someone is going to design a new structure across the street I certainly prefer and trust Steven Holl to figure it out rather than my well-intentioned but not-actually-experienced-architect neighbors.

    2) Even mentioning the word "Columbia" in a crowded room in Inwood will yield all sorts of eruptions. They've made a lot of people very happy (can you imagine three hundred worse land users for those blocks? I certainly can) and left some bruises with a host of minor irritants, some quite legitimate and some not. The writer allowed this stuff to crowd the article when it really has little to do with the project. Yes, Baker should have less of a fortress mentality and they should do a better job with the lights but come on, complaining about traffic and buses from wimpy Ivy League crowds at a stadium site older than most of the neighborhood?

    3) The writer actually missed THE ENTIRE STORY that is really behind the project. By law, New York landowners are supposed to create a waterfront walkway when a new building is built on a waterfront lot. Columbia is looking to trade this understandably impractical and expensive requirement (the waterfront is huge and all cliffs) for a cutesy little park with a High Line pedigree. Not one Inwood resident minds the "design" of the park (as the article states) -- what people, and City Planning, are not sure of is whether or not the dream of a waterfront path around the island should be abandoned for this trade. Sure, locals will take the park - why not, it's to our benefit - but some poor sap in Chelsea or Yorkville who one day wants to take his bike for a loop around Manhattan will not quite be able to, and that's the story. Planning is up in arms as to what to do and that is the real brouhaha that should have been reported here -- "· Building Plans at Columbia’s Athletic Complex Stir Unease At City Planning".

      • The same guy  

        w rote the same thing there. Not that hard of a concept.

        • Seaman Drake

          Sorry for the confusion. Seaman Drake is, in fact, iSkyscraper's other ID. I switched pseudonyms for Bwog as I thought you would appreciate the historical bent (The old Seaman Drake estate adjoins Baker Field).

          • Anonymous

            The bikeway needs a lot of work on the east side first.

            Also, I thought the dream was dead for a long while. From the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway Master Plan:
            "From the Broadway Bridge to Dyckman Street along the waterfront is a 1.49-mile bike-free stretch that runs through a Columbia University athletic facility and Inwood Hill Park. It is unlikely that the waterfront along the Harlem River side of the park will ever have a bike path due to the shoreline bluff and the designation of a wilderness area, and Columbia’s Wien Stadium to the east. Pedestrians are welcome in the park, however, and should feel free to use its paths instead of the sidewalks along Seaman Avenue."

          • Seaman Drake

            The passage you quote from the master plan is a realistic opinion, just as I could say we'll never see elevators at the 215th St subway stop anytime soon even if the Americans with Disability Act supposedly requires them (they are not included in next year's renovations). However, it's something quite different to do a zoning variance whereby the land deed is legally and forever altered to remove the requirement for waterfront access. That changes the scope from not likely-in-our-lifetimes to "never". As for IHP itself the path is not as unlikely as you think. Overcome the no-bike-fanatics (those local cranks again), add some railings and do a little grading work and presto, instant bike path. Building the missing link out on the water at W90th St was far more difficult. It will happen eventually.

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