[UPDATE] NYU Faculty Send Email To Top Administrators, Demand A Stop To “Deception” On Coles Gym Demolition

Twenty-three NYU faculty members, among them such prominent professors as Zadie Smith,  signed an email sent to President John Sexton and other top administrators yesterday to demand that the university be more up front with its plan to demolish Coles Gym as soon as next year.

Part of NYU’s ‘2031 plan,’ Coles is slated to be torn down as early as 2013 to make way for the new “zipper building,” named for the varying heights of its several proposed towers. The zipper building will have a new sports facility (as well as a university-run hotel and student housing), but it would not be completed until 2018, if all goes well. In the mean time, NYU included plans for a temporary gym facility to be built nearby, but little has been said about what that facility would provide.

According to the faculty behind this email [see full text below], the temporary gym would not fill in for Coles at all. It would have no exercise equipment, treadmills, weight room, squash courts or pool, and it would be used “exclusively by certain NCAA teams.” As the email points out, that means Palladium will be the only accessible gym for at least six years. 

The crux of the email is the demand that NYU stop bringing guided admissions tours to Coles, calling that “thoroughly misleading” since, if NYU’s 2031 plan is approved, it won’t be available to them any time soon. “By making tacit promises that NYU will break, you are involved in a deception that could harm NYU’s reputation, and make for a disgruntled student body and unhappy faculty,” the email reads.

Apparently, students working at the front desk at the gym were equally unaware of the demolition plan when asked. The email concludes with a demand that NYU “publicize the truth” about Coles closure and much-diminished replacement.

Zadie Smith, Stephen Duncombe and Andrew Ross were among the email’s signers. In the “to” field was NYU Athletics Directors Christopher BledsoeJanice QuinnFrank Sicignano and Gail Stentiford. CC’d to the email were John Sexton, NYU’s president, Lynne Brown, senior vice president, John Beckman, vice president for public affairs, and 15 other top faculty members.

[UPDATE] The university confirmed that the temporary replacement gym would be open only to NYU’s varsity teams.

Since Palladium does not meet NCAA standards, NYU’s varsity men’s and women’s basketball ball and volleyball teams could lose their Div. III standing in the Association for  if it did not have access to proper facilities.

“Nobody’s going to mistake NYU for a NCAA Div I Big Ten sports powerhouse.  But playing competitive intercollegiate varsity athletics is an important part of college life for many of our students,” said John Beckman, vice president for public affairs.

Beckman stressed that the temporary nature of the fix must be kept in mind despite the 6-year trajectory, and that NYU is trying to keep its size as modest as possible.

He also noted that regardless of the plans for the zipper building, Coles was due for a remodeling and would be facing the issue of construction closures regardless. “I don’t think anyone looking at Coles believes it was in a state to carry on in its current conditions for another generation,” Beckman said.

He added that NYU will look into “other plans” to give non-varsity members of the NYU community access to gym activities that they would have normally found at Coles.

Email From NYU Faculty to NYU Administrators Regarding the Demolition of Coles Gym


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Stephen Brown says

    While I’m not officially speaking for the Admissions Ambassador program, a point of clarification: Guided campus tours do not stop at Coles. We discuss both Coles and Palladium on the tour, and will direct guests to either if they request it.

    Tours of Coles are operated by Coles staff and are wholly independent from the Admissions office. I would venture to guess that only a handful of guests from official Admissions tours take the option to visit Coles each week. Many of those are students interested in NCAA athletics, for which Palladium would not be accurate or helpful.

    Additionally, tour guides have never been instructed NOT to mention plans to rebuild Coles. While we don’t get into specifics of dates (guests are unlikely to remember specific numbers anyway), I know I’ve personally discussed plans to rebuild the facility while leading tours.

    On a different note, is there any truth to the possibility that the new facility will offer more in the way of Greek Life housing?

  2. Stephen Brown says

    Addition: I was speaking for undergraduate tours, as your article doesn’t make a distinction. I’ve since been told that graduate tours might stop at Coles. Worth clarifying in the article, perhaps.

  3. Ann Pettibone says


    FYI: NYU 2031 wants to pack 1.3 million square feet (size of Empire State Bldg) of housing, classrooms, a hotel and retail space into 2 super blocks located just below Washington
    Square/Bobst Library. This extremely dense expansion, four 20-30 story towers, will consist of 20 years of continuous construction ans destroy several community gardens, playgrounds and public open spaces as well as change historic Greenwich Village forever.

    For further infomation and pictures, Google NYU 2031

  4. Ann Pettibone says

    When will the administration explain “other plans?” What other locations have they considered? This is an impossible answer to get. Try.

    Also, regarding a much bigger question, is there coverage of the hundreds-strong demonstration yesterday of faculty against NYU 2031, an expansion plan which will incur SIX BILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT for the university? I don’t see it. How do you think this debt will be paid off? Tuition, maybe?

  5. Ann Pettibone says

    I see excellent coverage of the faculty/student opposition to the controversial NYU 2031 on the front page. This is an extremely important conversation that needs everyone’s participation. Students, faculty, neighbors, businesses, speak out now!

  6. Todd Jones says

    Stephen – why bother even touring coles if it is going to be torn down by the time these kids come to NYU? Also, the new gym won’t be built for 6 years, which likely these same kids would have graduated. Who cares if NYU is going to have a new gym when the potential student won’t even be here!

    Yes, Coles needs to be remodeled but they could do good construction in 1 year or even six months. A/C the building, update the offices and add windows, expand the weightroom and fix the lobby/entrance would hardly take more than a year if that.

  7. Daniel Chase says

    Note that it is August and I’ve still seen tours provided. Why is the administration being deceptive to the student body that there will be no main gym for 4-6 years!

    Good luck telling students they can’t have a main gym when they pay $60K for tuition/room/etc., which is one of the highest in the nation combined with minimal student aid. I guess students in 6 years will have a nice looking gym but not sure if they will be happy paying $80K+ annually….