While Borough President Scott Stringer got NYU to reduce the size of its campus yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it clear he thought the plan was fine just the way it was. For a story in this week’s paper about the political implications of the NYU expansion, The Observer asked the mayor at an unrelated press conference on Monday if he thought it would be reasonable for the university to embrace some of the compromises out there calling for a reduction in the size and scale of the school’s Greenwich Village expansion. The mayor gave such suggestions an F-minus.
“In certain ways, I think it can destroy NYU,” he said. “The great thing about NYU is, it’s in the name—it is a city university, in the city, it thrives because it’s part of the city. It thrives particularly because unlike other schools that have a campus that you can’t really enter, this is a school that takes advantage of the city and has the city in it. That’s the real difference.”
(Critics would counter that the university is attempting to do the opposite with its new plan, walling off public space and creating the quad it always wanted.)
The Observer then pointed out that the university used to have a satellite campus in the Bronx and asked about calls to move part of the campus to Brooklyn, as groups like the Municipal Art Society and Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman have argued for—surely this still counts as keeping the school in the city. The mayor dismissed such a move.
“You don’t go to school where the campus is separated by a long distance, even if that distance is bridgeable by one stop on the subway or one bicycle ride over the bridge,” the mayor said. “There are great campuses in Brooklyn, as a matter of fact, NYU, we’re working with them to have a campus there as part of NYU Poly”
“Nevertheless, universities thrive on being together. NYU is unique because not only is it together, the city is right running through it all the time. It’s easy for an architectural critic to say whatever, but this is an educational experience and the area that surrounds it, the value of their houses, the quality of their life is because of the prox of NYU. In the real world today, to have a world class university, you have to keep expanding and doing new things and having campuses elsewhere. And NYU is a good poster child for a great school.”
“I think in the end playing politics with it is not beneficial to anybody.”
Scott Stringer might disagree.