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Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights at Columbia University

A Center for Civic and Political Justice, the Initiative will house scholars, practitioners, artists, staff, students and the wider community within a collaborative environment designed to support deep thinking, shared action and activism.

Housed in a historic building adjacent to Columbia’s main campus, the Initiative comprises ground floor event and exhibit spaces, seminar rooms, offices, informal meeting spaces and a contemplative library. Working with the Holder Initiative and Columbia University, MBB created a concept design that conveys a sense of civic obligation, provides a welcoming sanctuary and engages the community. The building is intended to be an amenity for students and student groups and organizations, designed to bring people together and convey welcoming. The humanistic environment will be fully accessible and inclusive, supportive of reflective thinking and projecting a sense of possibility.

In recognition of the synergies between environmental and political justice, the building will be designed to the highest performing environmental standards with continuous insulation, airtight construction, triple-glazed windows, and filtered, ventilation. The front and side walls of the historic building will be preserved with a new highly insulating layer installed on the interior. A new addition at the rear, allowing for event space and the future growth of the institute, will have a high-performance envelope minimizing energy loss. A central skylight and a strategically located double-height spaces will maximize daylighting throughout the interior and a green roof will significantly reduce storm water runoff. The all-electric building systems will be powered in part by a rooftop photovoltaic array contributing to Columbia’s decarbonization goals.