$100 million gift from John A. Paulson to new NYU Academic complex

NYU Board Chair William Berkley and President Andrew Hamilton announced that the University has received a $100 million gift from alumnus John A. Paulson towards the vital, ambitious, and trail-blazing 735,000-sq.-ft., LEED Gold (anticipated) academic complex the University has constructed on Mercer Street.

The announcement comes as the University prepares to open the distinctive new building, the first to be built under a plan approved by the City a decade ago. It will be dedicated as the John A. Paulson Center.

They were joined for the dedication by former NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, an NYU alumnus who will join NYU’s Wagner School in January as the 2023 Marnold Visiting Fellow.

The gift is among the largest NYU has ever received at its Washington Square Campus. The largest academic building built by NYU at its Washington Square core, the Paulson Center will also serve the widest range of uses. The facility, begun in 2016, will open in January 2023.

Mr. Berkley said, “When John Paulson received his degree over 40 years ago, the global stature that NYU enjoys today could scarcely have been imagined.  That successful trajectory was achieved in large part thanks to the conviction of people like John.  This fabulous building is a testament to NYU’s proud transformation, and the people who have made it possible. We are glad to gather today to thank and honor John for his wonderful gift.”

President Hamilton said, “Great cities need great universities, and universities need space to fulfill their academic missions.  The Mercer site is a once-in-a-generation campus building, and its singleness is matched only by the uncommon generosity of John Paulson’s extraordinary gift.  We are honored by his support for the University and particularly this building, which fulfills so many crucial needs for NYU now and far into the future.  We are immensely grateful to him, and thrilled to recognize him by naming the building the John A. Paulson Center.”

Mr. Paulson said, “As one of NYC’s most important institutions, NYU has been a shining star in our city since its formation in 1831. The Washington Square Campus is bustling with energy, creativity, and excitement. This magnificent new addition to our campus will cause our star to shine even brighter. I’m proud to support NYU with this project that will benefit multiple schools and programs at the university.”

Allyson Green, Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, renowned for its performing, dramatic, and cinematic arts programs, said, “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Paulson. This is a transformational moment. The growth and success of the performing arts within the Tisch School of the Arts has been unprecedented despite its facilities. From this moment onward, our presence in the Paulson Center will ensure that Tisch students have access to the world-class facilities they deserve, including acting and dance studios, theaters and shop spaces, and the extraordinary Iris Cantor Theater, all of which we will inaugurate with a spring arts festival.”

Jack Knott, Dean of NYU’s Steinhardt School, home of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, said, “The impact of these world-class spaces on our performance and instruction programs cannot be overstated. These facilities enhance the experience of our student musicians, dancers, and actors, and allow us to share our work with the broader community.”

The John A. Paulson Center fills a wide range of essential needs for NYU, providing state-of-the-art facilities in support of its prestigious educational and performing arts programs, sports and recreational facilities, student housing, and faculty housing.

Specifics include:

Fifty-eight new mid-size classrooms (approximately 25 students), which NYU currently has too few of, which also will permit spaces in the Silver Center to be converted to labs

A 350-seat proscenium theater with fly loft capabilities, providing NYU’s renowned performing arts programs with a professional grade theater for the first time

Additional spaces for the dramatic and performing arts, including a space commemorating the African Grove Theater

An orchestral rehearsal hall, providing the University Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble with their first dedicated, acoustically brilliant room for practicing together

Practice rooms for music majors to rehearse and refine their skills in an acoustically pristine and central location

Common spaces that allow students to engage in group study, quiet individual study, or to socialize

New athletics facilities that include:

NCAA regulation basketball courts with technology to record and analyze game and practice videos

A six-lane pool

Fitness and weight rooms, squash courts, and an indoor track

A 400-bed residence hall for first-year students

In line with NYU’s commitment to sustainability, the Paulson Center is anticipated to be rated LEED Gold.  Based on the projected energy model, it will exceed the NYC Energy Conservation Code by more than 20%, a significant accomplishment for a large, mixed-use structure.

Sustainable features include:

Green roofs with gardens and terraces that, in addition to reducing stormwater run-off and cooling the building to minimize the urban heat island effect, offer outdoor communal space and promote urban biodiversity

Facade and solar reduction strategies that reduce lighting needs and air conditioning loads, minimizing the building’s carbon footprint.  The custom fritted glass allows natural light while helping to regulate building temperature, and it also helps prevent bird strikes

Connection to NYU’s cogeneration facility, providing higher efficiency heating and cooling to the Paulson Center while substantially reducing energy, greenhouse gasses, and pollutants

The architects for the John A. Paulson Center are the team of Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake.

Together, they have created a groundbreaking building that fosters and showcases the dynamism of academic and social life at NYU in the heart of its Greenwich Village campus, provides a platform for pedagogical exploration and future educational needs, meets ambitious sustainability goals in support of NYU’s Climate Action Plan, and adds green space that can be enjoyed by both the NYU and local communities.

Here is the full text of remarks given by John Paulson at the Dedication Ceremony:

“NYU has always been a breath of fresh air for me. From the first day I started school in 1976, right up until today, I love coming to NYU. The school is filled with so much vibrancy and excitement. The other day as I walked down from midtown on 5th Avenue, I could feel NYU’s energy from the moment I crossed 14th street. That energy continued to build as I approached Washington Square Park, and reached a crescendo as I walked through the arch.

 Whether it’s in the arts, sciences, film, medicine, engineering, business or other areas, NYU is bursting with creativity and innovation. As students, alumni, faculty and administrators, we have so much to be proud.

 NYU opened many doors for me…intellectually, personally and businesswise. NYU has always emphasized a broad-based undergraduate education and in that regard, I was exposed to many schools within the University and took courses in physics, math, philosophy, psychology and the arts in addition to my major in finance. The teachers, deans and administrators were always supportive of me and encouraged me to advance. For that, I will always be grateful.

 I do believe that education is the great equalizer and provides a pathway for both economic and social mobility. For that reason, the primary focus of my philanthropy has been in the support of education. A secondary but significant focus has been in supporting the arts. While the arts may not provide the highest income for living, the arts do provide a reason for living, which is why they need our support.

This gift to NYU fulfills both these philanthropic goals. It helps provide the resources for the highest quality education in performing and human arts where students will now have world class facilities in acting, dance, music and theatre and also in sports, with the incredible new athletic facilities.

This gift also confirms my support for NYC and its major institutions. Within NYC, NYU has been a beacon of light since its founding in 1831 and that light has never shone brighter than it does today. As a lifelong and current resident, I remain committed to both NYC’s and NYU’s success. These new facilities will help ensure that NYC and NYU strengthen their positions for many generations to come.

This gift was conceived under John Sexton and has come to fruition under Andy Hamilton. We are all indebted to you both for this new building and for guiding NYU to new heights of achievement. Personally, this gift allows me to express my thanks to the school that has done so much for me and for so many others.

Thank you.”


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