Bi-coastal Media Institute Wins Interior Design Award

NEW YORK — The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media, a first-of-its-kind facility for media innovation, received an American Institute of Architecture New York Chapter 2015 design award in the Interior Design category in March. Designed by LTL Architects of New York, the institute serves as an incubator for new platforms of digital journalism, creating a new space for engagement, collaboration and discourse.

The bi-coastal institute is shared by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University’s School of Engineering, combining the former’s content leadership with the latter’s “entrepreneurial spirit and proven experience with technology,” according to a statement by Stanford University. It was established through a $30 million gift from David Brown, a film producer and graduate of both universities, and longtime Cosmopolitan Editor Helen Gurley Brown. It is intended to “encourage and support new endeavors with the potential to inform and entertain in transformative ways” and to “recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology, bringing the best from the East and West Coasts,” according to Stanford University. As the institute is physically based in New York, students will receive grants to travel from Stanford’s California campus to complete their work.

The two-story facility located in Columbia’s Pulitzer Hall was unveiled in the fall of 2013 and incorporates elements of both a tech incubator and a traditional newsroom with open, flexible workspaces referred to as “garages.” The design balances crisp, white walls with a warm wood millwork base. A suspended mezzanine of glazed offices accessed via a steel and concrete catwalk overlooks the main incubator space and shelters the collaborative garages below, while mobile work tables in the main space can be reconfigured or can dock into flat screen monitors along the perimeter. A translucent scrim was used to conceal technical systems and screen the room from exterior light, while the wooden base also provides built-in seating, storage and a large bleacher stair.

Shawmut Design and Construction of New York built the state-of-the-art facility, which spans more than 4,500 square feet. The project required a full interior fit-out of the space and supporting infrastructure, and exterior windows were replaced with new energy-efficient models.

“This project took place in an occupied building on an occupied campus, which made work particularly challenging,” said Tony Miliote, vice president of Shawmut’s tri-state academic division, in a statement. “Additionally, the mezzanine expansion required close coordination with the structural engineers due to added steel supports. The team’s hard work and flexibility allowed us to complete the project on time while delivering the level of service our clients have come to expect.”