Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
Lehman College Physical Education Facility
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Lehman College Physical Education Facility

Lehman College Physical Education Facility

Bronx, New York

1994 13,000 m²

This building was originally conceived as a conventional physical education facility at a unit of the City University of New York. The program, however, was redefined to a large extent during the design process, after an in-depth analysis of the client’s real (rather than perceived) needs. The final design, while meeting the functional requirements of the college’s physical education program and providing performance and ancillary spaces, also makes a significant urban planning gesture, providing a previously lacking northern boundary for the Lehman College campus. With the agreement of the commissioning body, RVA analyzed existing athletic facilities at comparable institutions and conducted an extensive study of the needs and preferences of students and faculty at Lehman. As built, the facility includes a main gymnasium, an auxiliary teaching gymnasium, and what was at the time of its completion New York City’s only indoor Olympic-size competition swimming pool, along with other training facilities, offices, locker rooms, and a ballet theater.


The new building’s alignment along the north end of the campus both creates a terminus for its longitudinal axis and redefines the relationship among its other buildings. The building’s roof, a segmented convex curve, descends almost to the ground on the campus side; on the “street” side it is propped up by a concrete-and-glass-walled structure housing classrooms and administrative offices. The great roof is a dynamic visual element in an otherwise predominantly neo-Gothic architectural context, but it does not overpower its surroundings. Instead, its stainless steel cladding takes on the color of the sky and effectively disappears from view. A rectangular, asymmetrically located cutout in the roof frames a lobby and a grand staircase that together constitute the primary entrance to the complex. From outside the campus, this entrance is expressed as a monumental quadrangular opening in the concrete façade. Serving as a ceremonial gateway to the college, the building has since its completion taken on an iconic status, symbolizing the college within the surrounding community and promoting a sense of openness and accessibility.