Photographer Iwan Baan has released new images of Vagelos Education Center, the state-of-the-art building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, In Collaboration with Gensler, is a Hub for Medical and Graduate Students in Northern Manhattan. Columbia University Medical Center’s new, state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, opened to faculty and students in Mid-August for the start of the fall term.

Iwan Baan’s newly-released photographs capture the detailed-areal and interior perspectives of the building, encapsulating the real life inside and the pure structural arrangement with lighting conditions floor-by-floor.

Designed by the New York-based interdisciplinary design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect, the Vagelos Education Center is a 100,000-square-foot, 14-story glass tower that incorporates technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces, and a modern simulation center to reflect how medicine is taught, learned, and practiced in the 21st century. The design seeks to reshape the look and feel of the Medical Center campus and to create spaces that facilitate the development of skills essential for modern medical practice.

The building is named in recognition of the generosity of an initial lead gift from P. Roy Vagelos, MD, a distinguished alumnus of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and his wife, Diana Vagelos, an alumna of Barnard College and the Vice Chair of the Trustees of Barnard College. The Vagelos Education Center was funded through the generosity of many committed friends, faculty, and alumni donors. Construction began in September 2013.


”We are training the doctors who will deliver medical care, the scientists who will perform groundbreaking scientific research, and the teachers who will help train the future generation of physicians and scientists. It is important that their educational facilities are as exciting as medical science is today,” said Dr. Vagelos.

”We are so grateful for Roy and Diana’s dedication to Columbia, not only through their own generous gift for this important new education building, but also the inspiration they provide to others,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. ”They are joined in this enduring commitment by Philip and Cheryl Milstein who have long supported so many parts of the university, from Morningside Heights to the Medical Center, and Mary Jaharis and the late Michael Jaharis and their family, for their long-established engagement with the Medical Center and this project. Because of their collective efforts, we are adding another of several new architectural jewels to our campuses.”

In addition to the new Vagelos Education Center, initiatives to revitalize the campus include increasing green space, creating a new gateway to the medical school, consolidating student services, renovating several existing buildings, and constructing new spaces, including the new home for the Columbia School of Nursing.

”Our new education building will ensure that Columbia continues to train superior doctors and researchers, educated in the latest techniques, as medicine continues to evolve rapidly throughout the 21st century,” said Lee Goldman, MD, Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University. “The building also will allow us to centralize key activities in a state-of-the-art facility that reflects our commitment to providing world-class instruction and a superb learning environment for students.”

Known as the Study Cascade, the building extends the height of the building. The alcove interiors of the Study Cascade, designed to be conducive to collaborative, team-based learning and teaching, open onto south-facing outdoor spaces and terraces.

”Space matters for structured and informal learning,” said Elizabeth Diller, founding partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “To support Columbia’s progressive medical education program, we designed a building that will nurture collaboration. Its defining feature is the Study Cascade — a 14-story network of vertically linked spaces in a variety of sizes, both focused and social, private and communal, indoors and out.”


”The Vagelos Education Center started with a clear vision as a place of excellence for higher learning that would also act as a much needed social center,” said Maddy Burke-Vigeland, AIA, Principal at Gensler. “Because of everyone’s deep involvement, it has transformed into something that exceeds even those high expectations: a vibrant new hub for Columbia’s Medical Center campus.”

DS+R’s design takes advantage of an incredible view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The building also integrates a range of sustainable features—including locally sourced materials, green roof technologies, an innovative mechanical system that minimizes energy and water use, and a façade featuring ceramic “frit” patterns that are baked onto the exterior glass to diffuse sunlight.

All new construction and renovation projects at CUMC—including the Vagelos Education Center—work toward the goal of minimizing CUMC’s carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025.

All images © Iwan Baan