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FIT Campus Tour

July 23, 2012

Last Wednesday’s monsoon-level rain stopped just in time for DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State’s summer tour “Fashioning a Campus: FIT Architecture.” Even if it hadn’t, the 25 participants would have stayed nice and dry. The five main campus structures—all designed primarily by the De Young and Moscowitz firm between 1959 and 1977—are internally connected by passageways and covered courtyards.

The exteriors of these buildings maintain their distinctive 1960s façade details while the interior spaces mix up two modes: spaces relatively unchanged in 40 or 50 years and those recently renovated in bold and exciting ways. The FIT interiors show how accommodating mid-century buildings can be when current design ideas are introduced. One interesting example was the main corridors in the classroom buildings. Old linoleum was pulled up to reveal a concrete subfloor with a dark aggregate in the mix. Rather than recover, the original concrete was repaired, ground smooth and polished. Looking to the future, the group watched a short preview presentation of the planned SHoP Architects designed-expansion to Building C along 28th Street, called C2. Overall, the tour provided an opportunity to see inside an institution normally off limits to all but ID-carrying students.

We would like to thank Karen Cannell, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and FIT Archives, who was the primary organizer for the tour, and our guides: Clare Smith of David Smotrich & Partners, FIT’s on-call architect; John Watson, FIT’s director of Buildings and Grounds from 1985–2009; and Allen King, current Deputy Director of Facilities.

Tour stop in the lobby of F.I.T. Building B. Photo by John Arbuckle