Lenfest Center for the Arts Opens in Manhattanville

April 18, 2017

The eight-floor, 60,000-square-foot Lenfest Center for the Arts opens this spring and will be the second building to open on the University’s Manhattanville campus. It is an academic venue designed for the presentation and creation of art across disciplines, providing a dynamic new home for faculty and students of Columbia University School of the Arts and the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. The Lenfest Center will host exhibitions, performances, screenings, symposia, readings, and lectures that present fresh global voices and perspectives. The building provides a new, publicly accessible home for the Wallach Art Gallery, allowing it to become a true community resource, and the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room, a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility. The building was made possible by a gift from former University Trustee H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest (LAW ’58, HON ’89), an admired patron of the arts who has also served on the boards of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

The Lenfest Center hopes to serve as a focal point for engagement in the rich cultural life of Columbia, Harlem, and New York City at large. With a range of spaces suited to presentation of work in multiple genres, the Lenfest Center presents an unprecedented opportunity to expand partnerships between Columbia University School of the Arts, the University’s Wallach Art Gallery, and the diverse, dynamic arts communities that have long defined Harlem’s cultural legacy.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop designed the Lenfest Center with Davis Brody Bond, LLP, the firm of the late Max Bond, as executive architect and Body Lawson Associates, a Harlem-based certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), as associate architect—the same team that designed the Jerome L. Greene Science Center. The design team utilized high ceilings and large open spaces uninterrupted by columns—critical elements for a performing arts center. Windows in some of the venues allow for flexibility in controlling natural light, including a skylight on the ceiling of the eighth floor’s flexible presentation space, which features custom lighting and motorized shade tracks. The Lenfest Center is located on West 125th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, just west of Columbia’s Jerome L. Greene Science Center.

Elements of this story were originally published on the Manhattanville website.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Columbia Newsletter.