ABU DHABI // NYU Abu Dhabi commences its fall semester on its new campus of Saadiyat in a structure intended to promote interaction between living and learning, research and teaching, and the disciplines, according to Hillary Ballon, deputy vice chancellor of NYUAD.
Designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, the campus is built on 40 acres, or about eight New York City blocks, includes 21 buildings, featuring the latest technology. Student residences sit above the classrooms and the faculty offices.
“Our goals were first to integrate living and learning in all dimensions of the campus, our second goal is to foster interaction between the disciplines and break down those walls,” said Ms Ballon.
“We’ve created a public realm on our campus for people to socialise. All those wonderful moments where you can sit and talk to someone. These are moments where people will come together and interact.”
According to Ms Ballon, the building conforms to a principle of openness. In architectural terms this idea of transparency is seen in the heavy usage of glass throughout the building that allows for vistas of both the internal structure, the surrounding outdoor spaces of the campus and at times, externally to the sea.
The main library is designed with three oculi that seep natural light throughout the facility and down through an elevated platform of glass floor in the centre of the library which allows the same light to travel to the swimming pool and gym below.
“It’s like the great libraries of the world, it motivates you to think, study and be connected to the world of ideas,” said Ms Ballon. “There’s a kind of continuum of this building between physical fitness and a mental workout in the library.”
As for the arts centre, the building hosts an auditorium which seats 700 people; a more intimate space designed especially for acoustic music, and then a blackbox theatre and a rectangular performance space made to accommodate various staging techniques and unorthodox seating.
“The arts centre is going to be a spectacular place for both the life for this campus and the city at large. We want to welcome people on to the campus for the programming we will have on the theatres there,” said Ms Ballon.