Columbia University Northwest Corner Building

Completed in 2010, the Northwest Corner Building was developed by Columbia University for the beginning of their campus expansion on the upper-west side of Manhattan, New York. The design by architect Rafael Moneo features an extruded aluminum facade, a system that was designed-engineered and fabricated by Zahner for the cladding of the structure.

The building's engineering is a bold feat of structure and construction. Its design called for a 125' span across the existing gymnasium on ground level. Because Columbia opted to build around an existing gymnasium, the building design was modeled after a high-rise bridge. The construction process took place during the school's basketball season, and due to this, many aspects of the construction process required surgical precision.

The angularity of the facade is designed to express both the building's randomized structural bracing, as well as the tailored building systems. The architects and engineers faced many unique layout challenges and the building required long-term flexibility. The extruded aluminum facade is an engineering-intensive surface designed and fabricated to evoke the same unified precision as the building itself.

Detail of the Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Detail of the Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Detail of the aluminum facade system used on Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.
Detail of the aluminum facade system used on Columbia University Northwest Corner Building.

Creating the Energy-Efficient Aluminum Facade System

The new university building is certified LEED Gold. Integrating into the the building's LEED aspirations was a simple process for A. Zahner Company because the operations and manufacturing of the plant is already well-suited for LEED applications.

Zahner delivered the aluminum system for this project under a design assist mode of production. Using this method enabled Zahner's engineering and design team to reduce the construction waste for the facade down to a fraction of the building's footprint.

Columbia University's first installed aluminum panels.
Columbia University's first installed aluminum panels.
Zahner-produced mockup for wind-testing the Columbia facade system.
Zahner-produced mockup for wind-testing the Columbia facade system.
Detail of the aluminum extrusion system facade used on Columbia University.
Detail of the aluminum extrusion system facade used on Columbia University.

Columbia University Northwest Corner Building: in the Press

“The building is a gleaming physical expression of the university’s desire to bridge the divide between the insular world of the campus and the community beyond its walls.”

—Nicolai Ouroussoff, New York Times

The New Columbia University Sciences building has attracted many news outlets and media interest due to its unique facade and intelligent engineering by the architectural team lead by Rafael Moneo. Learn more about the project via both internal and external links below.