University Building

Here are two very interesting, very different articles from the New York Times Magazine about universities and construction projects – Columbia and the University of Virginia.
Columbia is dealing (rather poorly, the article suggests) with its neighborhood and a very difficult past as it tries to expand. Columbia ends up sounding much more like a real estate developer flacked by prominent architects promising urban renewal through Modern Architecture (my capitals) than like a university with space problems. I’m not convinced, and the neighborhood isn’t, either.
The University of Virginia is facing an impossible question – imitate Jefferson, or the Spirit of Jefferson. That is to say, classcism or innovation? It doesn’t help that the University is stuck in a marketing problem, too – but not with its neighborhood so much as with the alumni who have to agree to pay for the building. The article quotes the Dean of the School of Architecture: “We all love the Lawn here,” she said. “We just love it in different ways.” That sums up the balancing act pretty well.
On Columbia’s expansion project into West Harlem.
On UVa’s ongoing attempt to decide what style to build new campus buildings.