Campus Revitalization

The Study Cascade: The Optimal Setting for Individual and Collective Learning

One of the defining elements of CUMC's new Medical and Graduate Education Building is its innovative approach to the learning environment. With feedback from five planning committees of students, faculty, and staff, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have created a unique design to optimally support Columbia’s intense medical and graduate education. “One of the main features of the building is a set of breakout spaces we call the study cascade,” says designer Liz Diller, Principal and Founding Partner of the firm. “It’s made up of a very intricate network of intimate spaces for mixing up social space and learning space.”

The study cascade will facilitate group learning, which is central to the P&S curriculum, as modern medicine relies on the collaboration of specialists. “Medicine is practiced in a team environment,” says Ronald Drusin, M.D., Vice Dean for Education. “Providing a space in which people come together to share ideas, learn, and communicate better is going to enhance the quality of our graduates.”

This new building will advance every aspect of medical and graduate education, with a modern, environmentally responsible design—and by supporting team-based learning, the study cascade will help ensure students are prepared to be leaders in medicine. Additionally, this transformative design will fulfill Columbia’s vision for collaboration between our medical and graduate students, enriching their education and ultimately fostering advances in care for the benefit of patients everywhere.

Key features of the Medical and Graduate Education Building will include:

• 100,000 square feet of high-tech classroom facilities
• Advanced simulation center for immersive, simulation-based medical education
• Innovative learning spaces for both collaboration and quiet study
• State-of-the-art auditorium, flexible event spaces, and conference center
• Centralized student support services, lounges, café, and student commons
• Outdoor terraces and study rooms with stunning views of the Hudson River
• Environmentally sustainable design, targeting LEED Gold Certification

To learn more, please contact Marissa Nemirofsky, senior director of development, at (212) 342-0094 and

Editor's Note: Please note building renderings are conceptual designs.