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17 Lexington Ave scheduled for renovations
17 Lexington Ave scheduled for renovations
Photo: Baruch College
The 23rd Street building is scheduled for renovations beginning spring 2013.
Article by Cynthia Roldan - September 12th, 2012

This school year marks the start of a new image for Baruch’s 23rd Street Building, as a new five-year Strategic Plan steps into the implementation phase.

Besides focusing on academic programs, the collegiate experience, increasing global engagement, and establishing “college-wide coordination and collaboration,” the plan intends to “strengthen Baruch’s Financial Foundation and Infrastructure.”

The most tangible aspect of this plan is to expand space, as stated in the latest Strategic Plan, 2012-2017.

The Lawrence and Eris Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue (or the 23rd St building, as it is commonly referred to) was built over 80 years ago as the cornerstone of the Free Academy and is still in use by the college today.

“The renovation of 17 Lexington is being planned in a phased approach to deliver a more modern, accessible, and sustainable building to service the College’s growing student, faculty, and staff base and to minimize the impact on the community,” said Jim Lloyd, assistant vice president of Campus Operations at Baruch College.

The planned renovations will bring the building up to 21st Century standards. This includes bringing the building up-to-date on city building compliance code in terms of ventilation (which it is currently not); Americans with Disability Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Phase 1A of the plan is scheduled to commence in March 2013 and includes lobby-enhancing and lowering the lobby and adding a ramp to make the building ADA Accessible and a new bank of elevators will be situated on the site of the old ground-floor pool, restructuring the Infrastructure Backbone on the Lexington side lobby by LiRO.

LiRO is the construction company that will be managing Phase 1A. It has done the recent renovations for New York Public Library, High Line Park and the Extension of the MTA’s 7 Line. Also, three new Con Edison vaults will be installed under the 23rd Street sidewalk to be wired up in proceeding phases will reduce energy needs.

Historically, about one third of all classes at Baruch are scheduled in the 23rd Street Building. This semester, only 17 percent of all classes (438 out of the total 2,626) are held in the building. Out of these classes, approximately 43 percent are Science classes.

When surveyed, half of the small sample size of 22 percent of all of the professors who teach at the Lawrence and Eris Field building said they found out about the renovations via the survey. The vast majority cited to be “strongly in favor” of the 17th building renovation. Most of the professors surveyed have class sizes averaging from 26-30 students.

In order to preserve student and pedestrian safety during Phase 1A, the 23rd Street side entrance will be re-opened, since the Lexington side will be under construction.

“In order to ease traffic, the officers will most likely hold the doors open,” explained Lloyd.

The current design of the building is an H-shape. After the renovation those spaces will be filled and a glass exterior will cover the current vacant spaces of the H. The Architectural concept was designed by Davis Brody Bond.

“The building will have a LEED Silver rating once completed two years from now. The roof will be a green roof. The three terraces will have plants. Four new big elevators will be installed specifically for student use for floors 1 through 8. The current six elevators will remain for faculty use to go only from floors 11-16, and capacity for science halls will be increased on floors 8-10. Every floor will have a student space,” said Lloyd. “The two-story library space in the middle of the building from the 1900s will be restored as exclusive student space, as well. A central Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system will be installed. There will be no escalators; only a staircase from floors 1-8. And finally, this building will be WiFi accessible.”

A LEED Silver rating is achieved by consists by gaining 50 to 59 points in the passing of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. “The goal is to attain a LEED silver designation from the U.S. Green Building Council- no small feat for a vintage structure,” explained Lloyd.

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