2012 Annual Design Review
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice has been faced with fortunate pressures: surging enrollment and the changing technologies of criminal justice and education. Yet, for years, students and staff continued to work out of several disjointed buildings in Midtown Manhattan. That changed in 2007, when the school broke ground on a new Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)–designed structure that would not only increase the school’s space, but also unify its campus, all while providing sorely needed space for student life, auditoriums, lecture halls, and the technological setup for a 21st century school.
The existing academic building sits on the opposite end of the block and the other side of the street from the school’s historic Haaren Hall, so SOM designed a city-block-length elevated landscaped area as a way to connect the disparate buildings and grade changes in a cogent circulatory system. At the site’s western terminus, SOM included a tower for academic departments and science facilities—a distinctive building, but also one that responds to its context. The steel frame is clad in glass with aluminum fins, which not only cut solar gain, but also customize the building’s finish. On one face, silver-specked mica-flake paint melds with the glass towers along the building’s western edge, while red-dotted silk screens on the eastern façade correspond to the school’s Haaren Hall brick cladding.
“The skin of the building is very successful in terms of being a system, on the one hand, but also creating a lot of variety.” —Mark Yoes