The Renzo Piano-designed Forum, the third building to rise on Columbia's growing Manhattanville campus, opened today and will now begin serving as a university meeting area, conference center, and site for a variety of academic and public programs.
The ground floor, which features a cafe offering light meals like oatmeal for breakfast and soup and sandwiches for lunch, will be fully open to the public. It is wrapped in glass and intentionally transparent, building on the idea of a new style of campus that's more accessible and integrated into the neighborhood.
The other two floors, covered along the front in precast concrete, house the 437-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, and sunny offices to be used by groups like the Obama Foundation Scholars.
Piano is the famed Italian architect whose vision is also behind the two neighboring Columbia buildings dedicated to science and the arts.
At the opening event this afternoon, university president Lee Bollinger likened the triangular, 56,000-square-foot Forum to a "ship set to sail."
Take a walk around–and through–the building on the corner of Broadway and 125th Street and see if you agree. As Piano noted before a tour of the building, "Architecture talks by itself."