Newsroom Archive


With the Opening of a Spectacular New Building, John Jay Bolsters a New Vision of Educating for Justice

Dynamic Design Creates an Integrated Campus in One New York City Block

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Scheduled for Wednesday, November 2 at 11:30 AM

October 12, 2011, New York, NY – To meet John Jay College of Criminal Justice's evolving academic and spatial needs, the College is about to open a state-of-the-art building on 59th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. The new 625,000 square foot facility, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is a concrete manifestation of John Jay's efforts to solidify its place as the preeminent leader in "educating for justice."

According to Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College, "With the increasing demand by young people to pursue studies in justice, the College has experienced a steady increase in enrollment. That demand has led to a reimagining of our core curriculum, development of educational partnerships, targeted increases in faculty hiring and an emphasis on faculty and student research. This new integrated will prove a fitting venue, as the College advances its distinctive mission."

This $600 million, 14-story building will for the first time create a cohesive instructional environment and integrate all college functions into a unified city block, creating an academic city within a city, a true urban campus. The addition will offer a balance between faculty, student and community needs, which will also serve as an institutional anchor for the expanding Westside neighborhood.

The building is a critical component of John Jay's transformation into a senior college of The City University of New York system and the greatest expression to date of the College's continued commitment to "educating for justice."

This project would not have come to fruition without the unwavering support of the State of New York. It is important to recognize and commend the State's elected officials and agencies, who for the past decade have worked diligently to insure the completion of this project. Despite difficult economic times, they recognized the importance of this expansion to meet the needs of the John Jay College community.

Special thanks are given to Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, Vice Chancellor Iris Weinshall of Facilities Planning, Construction and Management and The City University of New York. Their commitment to John Jay ensured that this project reached fruition and the facility would meet the College's 21st Century academic needs.

"We designed a campus for John Jay College, effectively creating an entire campus within a single building," explains Mustafa K. Abadan, FAIA, Design Partner at SOM. "With our social cascade and rooftop terrace, the students will now have more opportunities for the interaction and chance encounters that are so essential to education."

The following are highlights of specific aspects of the new building that make it so significant from an academic as well as architectural perspective:

  • The Podium
    • The low-rise portion, called the podium, contains classrooms, social and academic programs, lecture halls, seminar rooms, administrative space and student activity areas.
  • Smart Classrooms
    • Smart students deserve "smart" classrooms, and the new building provides exactly that. Sixty-five state-of-the-art classroom spaces, ranging in size from 16 to 45 seats, provide multiple electronic device support, remote management and simplified laptop connectivity, all administered by touch control panel.
    • Factor in the video cameras and microphones that can be used to record class interactions, as well as the projectors and projection screens for display Power Point presentations other visual aids, and you have an environment designed to encourage and support interactive teaching and positive learning experiences.
  • The Plaza
    • A football field-sized centerpiece of the new building is its open-air plaza soaring four stories above sidewalk level. For the first time, the College will have an actual campus setting where students, faculty and staff can mingle and build a better sense of community. Affectionately called the Jay Walk by the College's student body, this remarkable space combines lawns, trees, benches and more to offer an inviting and thoroughly unique outdoor experience.
  • The Tower
    • The 13-story high-rise tower contains state-of-the-art instructional and research laboratories, academic quads, a conference center and faculty offices.
  • The Moot Court
    • In addition, the moot court will serve as the venue for a variety of mock court activities ranging from jury selection to eyewitness testimony to trials, the moot court provides a perfect setting for simulations that enable students to learn in relevant and exciting ways about how their studies connect to the real world. The moot court mirrors the space of an actual courtroom, with furnishings that include a jury box, judge's bench and gallery seating for 100.
  • 9/11 Memorial
    • The College will feature a sculpture that will honor the memory of the 68 members of the College community who perished on September 11. Made of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, the sculpture will have the names of those lost inscribed on its base.
  • Emergency Management and High-Rise Simulator Labs
    • State-of-the-art labs will be able to support simulations and presentations of emergencies as training and instruction exercises. In conjunction with the Academy for Critical Incident Analysis and the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies, the simulator labs will house an archive of records and media files associated with a variety of critical incidents.
    • Adding a crucial practical aspect to the labs' cutting-edge training value, the Emergency Management Simulator can also serve as a real-time emergency operations center, with built-in interoperability with other CUNY EOCs, and plans to seek interoperability with other EOCs such as the Port Authority, FEMA and the Defense Department.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban-planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm's longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,400 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award – in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

To see images of the new building and its signature spaces, click here.

For additional information, please contact Vivian Todini 212.237.8628 or Doreen Vinas at 212.237.8645.