HARLEM — The first glimpse of the massive expansion of Columbia University's Manhattanville campus was given to the public Monday.
Lee C. Bollinger, the university's president, spoke of the "historic" growth that was needed to bolster the university's academic image as he gave a tour of the two first buildings to near completion.
The Manhattanville campus in West Harlem is the university's biggest expansion since it moved to Morningside Heights in 1897.
The $6.3 billion growth will see the creation of 6.3 million square feet of space, with the first buildings to be opened by April 2017. Later phases are scheduled to be completed by 2030, with 17 buildings.
From the 1970s until the early 2000s, Bollinger said, Columbia was not expanding at the same rate as other universities due to the city’s density.
“Columbia was constrained in its ability to expand,” he said, adding that a substantial expansion was always needed by the university if it were to remain competitive.
“I knew that Columbia had to have major new space if it was going to fulfill its promise as a major research institution,” he said.
The footprint of the new Manhattanville campus will be 17 acres, spanning along Broadway from West 129th to West 133rd streets, and between Broadway and 12th Avenue.
By comparison, the Morningside Heights campus is roughly double that acreage, though the new expansion will be denser.
Construction is still underway on the majority of the site, but two buildings — The Jerome L. Greene Science and The Lenfest Center for the Arts — are nearly completed and slated to open in April 2017.
The 450,000-square-foot science building, which is the largest building ever constructed by the university, will have lecture spaces and research labs for the school’s neuroscience institute as well as public retail and education spaces for the community and local schools and a community mental health program and wellness center.
The 60,000-square-foot art center will host art shows and galleries, including local uptown artists.
The university said roughly $44 million of more than $160 million promised to the local community as part of the expansion agreement has been used since 2008 to bankroll various neighborhood programs, including legal assistance, affordable housing and job training programs.
"It took a great deal of forgiveness and forbearance of the surrounding community," Bollinger said. "We are grateful."