5 Minutes With Columbia Business School and Columbia University Manhattanville campus Public Realm: Phases 1 and 2 Teams

Columbia Business School, Awards for Excellence in Institutional Development Finalist 

Columbia University Manhattanville Campus Public Realm: Phases 1 and 2, Awards for Excellence in Urban Open Space Finalist 

David M. Greenberg, Executive Vice President, University Facilities and Operations, Columbia University

James Corner, RLA, FASLA, Founder & CEO, James Corner Field Operations

Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?  

David M. Greenberg: During my tenure at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, I had the privilege of working under a remarkable boss whose advice I deeply valued. One particular lesson that has stayed with me is the significance of never accepting the first or even second response to any situation. He consistently emphasized the importance of continually asking questions, fostering a spirit of continuous improvement.

James Corner: Impossible to answer, as so many have influenced, guided, shaped, informed and inspired over the years. A teacher and mentor of a long time ago might be Ian McHarg, simply for his passionate insistence that one should always strive through their work to achieve more reciprocal forms of relationship amongst people, their environments and their economies. This is a project of design, a project of “design with nature,” for people and for our overall existential health and wellbeing. 

As a ULI NY Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?  

David M. Greenberg: Our vision went beyond establishing a new campus; it extended to revitalizing the neighborhood with a lasting positive impact on our community and the City. Meeting this goal and bringing our vision to life according to schedule was no small feat, especially given the numerous challenges posed by the pandemic. What also fills me with immense pride is seeing the spaces we’ve created being wholeheartedly embraced by both community members and visitors alike who come to experience the campus while the work of research, teaching and exploration is going on all around them.

James Corner: I am very happy with the simple legibility of the places we have created at the Manhattanville Campus: the Plaza, the Square and the Woodland Walk. Their elegance and clarity help to bring distinction and memorability to the campus as a whole. At the same time, their informality invites people in; there is a comfort, a generosity and a general “feel” that is welcoming and inclusive. They also support varied types of use and activity that creates a sense not only of “campus” but more so of “neighborhood.” 

What is your favorite off the beaten path New York location or activity? 

David M. Greenberg: New York City is a treasure trove of off-the-beaten-path gems. Among my favorites are exploring the city’s smaller islands such Randall’s Island, where the winding walking paths along the water offer breathtaking views of the city, particularly the sightline of the arches supporting Hell Gate Bridge, which creates a stunning backdrop. I also enjoy discovering the city’s local breweries – the Jalapeño Stout at Big Alice Brewery in Long Island City is a personal favorite. 

James Corner: Is anywhere in New York “off the beaten path”? The intensity and sheer variety of experiences in the city is what makes New York so compelling. We all find our own little hidden or secret places though, and mine might be a couple of the exposed rock outcrops in Central Park (there is one, the highest, called Summit Rock, and another called Umpire Rock), upon which you get the most spectacular views and a profound sense of raw, geological nature. Quite extraordinary!