VERA LIST COURTYARD
The New School, New York, NY (1990–1997)
The Vera List Courtyard in New York City provides a new outdoor campus space for New School students, to be used both as part of a daily routine and for special events. Set in a small courtyard that links two buildings with entrances at different elevations, the landscape enables and dignifies the simple acts of sitting, gathering, and walking from one level to another. The pragmatics of a relatively ordinary program is supported by a detailed and well-crafted design. A series of three iconic sitting elements, made from different materials by artist Martin Puryear, interact with the forms of the courtyard, the adjacent building entrance designed by Mitchell Giurgola Architects, and the ephemeral moments within the landscape, such as the brilliance of the red maples’ fall color, the sound of bamboo rustling in the breeze, and fallen leaves floating in the pool of water.
The courtyard is located on a constructed ground plane above a parking garage and is bounded by buildings and walls on all four sides. The new floor plane of a foyer space off 12th Street was extended into the courtyard and serves as the top level of a large stair that also functions as informal seating. A spiral ramp provides wheelchair access and moves around a sculpted landform featuring a thick grove of red maples and a ground cover of pygmy bamboo. An oval terrace serves as a stage for lectures, small concerts, and academic ceremonies.
Vera List Courtyard received a 1998 ASLA Design Merit Award.