MANHATTAN — Interior work to convert four of NYU's landmarked residential buildings on the Washington Mews into academic space has begun, a spokeswoman for the architecture firm working on the project said.
Within the next year, NYU will create additional academic space by renovating some of its residential buildings on the narrow, cobblestoned street a block north of the eastern end of Washington Square Park.
"The design preserves the historic character of the street, while upgrading underground infrastructure and improving sidewalks and street lighting," read a Thursday statement from Kliment Halsband Architects.
The renovations will convert the five-story, 7,200-square-foot brick building at 14A Washington Mews from NYU faculty residences to NYU's Institute for African American Affairs and the Africa House, according to NYU's website on the project. The redesigned building will have a large hall for performances, office space and conference rooms, according to the architects' statement.
The homes at 7 and 8 Washington Mews will be combined into one building to become the future home of the China House, where the university's Asian/Pacific/America Institute will be located, according to NYU.
The two-story, 5,100-square-foot space will feature a lecture hall that can be converted using pivoting wall panels into an exhibition gallery, according to the statement by Kliment Halsband Architects, which previously renovated 42 Washington Mews, where NYU's DeutschesHaus German language and culture center is located.
Work on 44 Washington Mews, a 1,600-square-foot building, will provide new conference space, the statement said.
The city Landmarks Commission-approved renovations will install energy-efficient electrical and mechanical systems and be handicapped accessible.
The street's bluestone and granite Belgian block cobblestones will be stored off site while construction is under way.
Completion of the project is scheduled for summer 2012, according to NYU.
The Washington Mews acted as horse stables in the 19th century and studios for artists including Edward Hopper beginning in 1916. NYU purchased the property in 1950. Hopper's former studio will not be renovated in the project.
NYU has assured the community that it will attempt to keep noise down at the construction site.
"Work will be conducted during normal working hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with noisier work starting at 9 a.m.," NYU's website about the project says.
Community Board 2 voted in favor of some upgrades to 14A, 7 and 8 Washington Mews, along with the street bed and sidewalks, in February 2010.
"CB2 Manhattan commends NYU for its re-use of existing buildings instead of relying on new development," a resolution on 14A Washington Mews says.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation encouraged the Landmarks Commission to carefully inspect the proposed construction materials but had no objections to the project, group head Andrew Berman said.
Information on the project cost and changes to the number of available faculty housing units was not immediately available.