SVA’s new state-of-the-art residence hall, which is currently under construction, passed one big milestone recently; it was topped off with a roof. “Now that the roof is in place, it’s just a matter of devoting more manpower to finish the building in time for Fall 2016 occupancy,” said Javier Vega, executive director of Admissions and Student Affairs, who is on the SVA committee in-charge of overseeing the project.
The building, which is being leased by SVA, has been designed by Ismael Levya Architects PC. It will house 505 students and the offices of Student Affairs, Health and Counseling, International Students, Disability Resources, Visual Arts Student Association and Visual Opinion. William Martino, director of Student Affairs, said, “Right now we’re scattered about, so it is going to be great for the students and the staff to have all these offices together in one building.” Martino, along with Vega and Jane Smith, chair of BFA Interior Design and co-founder of Spacesmith, are part of the team that is supervising matters related to the new building.
The building, which is being referred to as the 24th Street Residence, will be equipped with an exhibition space, fitness center, yoga room, library, multi-media room, lounge, TV lounge, high-end kitchen and dining area at the cellar or basement level. “Being an art school, we need more spaces to showcase work. The exhibition space is going to be dynamic and easy to use. Similarly, the multi-media room, which is a 65-seat theater style space, will be accessible to everyone at SVA to host events, talks and screenings,” Vega said.
The 14-story building will have a 4000-square-feet rooftop terrace on the 7th floor. It will have a picnic area, a barbecue area and a large video screen to host gatherings. “With this residence hall we are looking to nurture a stronger sense of community amongst the students and that’s one of the reasons why we have dedicated so much communal space,” Smith said.
Spacesmith, the architectural firm co-founded by Smith, is acting as SVA’s representative along with the project management firm Levien & Company. “Spacesmith’s role as design architects is to make sure that SVA gets the best deal and to make decisions that are helpful to the school. We interface with the departments of SVA that are going to be moving into the new building and make sure that the staff and students have all the facilities they need,” Smith said.
The building is being constructed as a replacement for the George Washington Residence. “Our lease for George Washington Residence expires in spring 2016, so we will be vacating it and moving into the 24th Street Residence,” Vega explained. “With this building we also have the opportunity to improve our students’ wellbeing. During natural calamities, such as hurricanes, we have experienced blackouts and this taught us to install backups in our newer buildings such as the Ludlow Residence. In the 24th Street Residence we have installed a full back-up power generator, which during an outage will supply power seamlessly,” Vega said.
Each room will include a bathroom and kitchenette. The kitchenette will include a sink, cabinets, microwave and refrigerator. The rooms will also be equipped with wi-fi and smart TVs. “The rooms are modeled on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s idea of a micro apartment that utilizes space efficiently; having said that we do not wish to leverage density. Putting too many students together does not work well for us. We need to give our students the space to successfully achieve their educational and artistic goals,” Vega said. The rooms in the upcoming building are mostly double-occupancy rooms with a few single- and triple-occupancy rooms. The room sizes are similar to SVA’s existing residence hall rooms but seem more generous because of higher ceilings, bigger windows and a more efficient layout of the room.
The building will also have a superior security system with turnstile entrances fitted with proximity readers that will read the magnetic stripe on student, faculty and staff identity cards to let them in. “This will allow us to know how many people are in the building in case of an emergency,” Vega said.
The building is located at the intersection of 24th Street and 1St Avenue and is less than two blocks away from SVA’s main East 23rd Street building. “It’s an area that is less dense in terms of the number of high-rises around. It’s also close to the East River and the Waterside Plaza. I think it would make for a very soothing and desirable environment,” Smith said.
The building is expected to be completed in June 2016 so that students can be welcomed inside in August. Current residents of George Washington Residence will be given priority for occupancy along with the incoming cohort of transfer students.