LaGuardia Community College

Long Island City, NY
City University of New York

Center 3 at LaGuardia Community College is, in essence, a vertical campus. Piece by piece, CUNY has been adapting the 883,000 sf former cookie factory into a modern program space.

Helpern had previously developed LaGCC’s comprehensive master plan across its four academic buildings; the assignment here was to create a sense of place for both the Sociology Department and the Cooperative Learning Department on part of Center 3’s vast fourth floor. Working on one corner of the floor, Helpern converted 25,000 sf into shared facilities for the two departments, always considering future room placement and routing of pipes and ducts.

By consolidating new bathrooms, air conditioning, and other mechanical support at the center of the space and by working with the trades to maximize ceiling height, Helpern was able to bring daylight into the deep space. The use of glass partitions for perimeter offices also helped achieve this goal. Offices have clerestory glazing and translucent doors and sidelights to allow diffuse daylight into the common corridors and administrative spaces.

The integrated design increased the overall operational efficiency as well, because both departments share equipment, a reception area, and infrastructure.