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Fashion School, 'Project Runway' Home Taking Flight from Garment District

By Alan Neuhauser | February 28, 2013 8:39am | Updated on February 28, 2013 5:53pm

GARMENT DISTRICT — The School of Fashion at Parsons is going to try to make it work away from the Garment District.

The frequent home of TV's “Project Runway” is leaving the David M. Schwartz Education Building at 560 Seventh Ave. to rejoin The New School’s main campus near Union Square next January. That's when the university is planning to open a sparkling new, 350,000-square-foot academic building and student center at Fifth Avenue and 14th Street.

“The New School is becoming more and more interdisciplinary, and design in general has become more interdisciplinary,” said Deborah Kirschner, a spokeswoman for the New School. “It's really about bringing the students downtown, now that we have this opportunity for this new building, which will help enable them to have more interdisciplinary classes more easily.”

New School administrators have not yet decided whether to lease or sell the fashion school’s Midtown property, which it has occupied since 1979, Kirschner said. The new building, when it opens, will be a “future-focused” space with large, open meeting areas and wide stairways geared toward fostering interaction and collaboration between students from different fields.

“It’s going to have a lot of gathering and meeting spaces for students to mingle with each other…and have them interacting on a day-to-day basis,” Kirschner said. “The new center is going to offer state-of-the-art classroom spaces, flexible spaces…resources for our students. So definitely it’s an improvement.”

The move, first reported by WNYC and Women’s Wear Daily, makes the School of Fashion the latest fashion entity to leave the Garment District.

“At some point, people will have to accept the reality that this is a new and evolved neighborhood of eclectic uses, and will choose to help us grow and thrive or continue to impede our progress,” said Barbara Blair Randall, president of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District.

She added: “In the last few years, we have seen many more offices, restaurants, bars, lounges and hotels open in the Fashion District than we’ve seen fashion-related business leave.”

The School of Fashion is determining whether "Project Runway" will shoot at the school's Midtown building this summer, Kirschner said. Following the move in January, it will work with the show "on a year-to-year basis."