Columbia Tennis Center

Columbia University Philip & Cheryl Milstein Family Tennis Center

New York, New York
Tennis On The Waterfront

Overlooking the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, on the northernmost tip of Manhattan, the Philip & Cheryl Milstein Family Tennis Center serves as the home court for the Columbia men’s and women’s varsity teams. Designed around the motto “fitness for all,” the facility supports collegiate athletes, alumni, club fitness members, and youth camp participants. The center provides the University with 12 tennis courts–6 inside and 6 on the roof–contained within a clear, singular building strategy. The building’s program supports strength and conditioning activities, while auxiliary areas like offices, locker rooms, and a lounge are unified by dynamic social spaces that promote inclusion and transparency.

The Court Experience

The stacked tennis court configuration, 6-court interior and 6-court exterior, is the first of its kind in collegiate sports. This world-class facility is primed for competitive tennis matches, offering a lively experience for both players and spectators.

Three stacked vertical layers correspond with the building’s main functions–a resilient base, team activities, and outdoor play.
Columbia Tennis Center
Outdoor patio space creates a perfect atmosphere for community events, university gatherings, and post-match promenades.
Intentional design elements anticipate the threat of flooding, letting the water in rather than trying to keep it out.
Protect and Adapt

Set close to Manhattan’s waterfront, the building’s ground-level composition is intentionally designed to withstand sea level rise, severe storms, and flooding for 100- and 500-year events. Strategically raising the ground level elevation, along with a combination of adaptable flood methodologies–a network of integrated flood vents and resilient material selection – toughen the design and protect the structural longevity of the building. With tennis courts, locker rooms, and fitness areas within the wet-flood-proofed ground floor, the facility is a prototype for adaptability to flooding.

This center is the future of flood-resilient architecture, rethinking how a structure interacts with water.

Fast Company highlighted our design approach and innovative strategies for this “floodable” facility.

Read more here.

Central stairs stitch together and unify programs for all.
Social spaces promote inclusion and transparency outwards to the water.
Columbia Tennis Center Sketch
Program Organization
A vertical fissure separates smaller, cellular team and support spaces from the larger court space.
Creative Details
Every wall and surface is impactful, with Columbia spirit and tennis motifs woven throughout.
A large transom window indicates the main public entry, which is carved into the building's solid base.
History and Context

Exterior material selection draws inspiration from the site’s industrial shipping and metal working history. The building’s rough cut base nods to the tactile quality of sea rock. Metal fins spark a kinetic energy, tying the facade to the site’s surrounding steel bridge structures.

Project Team

Jennifer Williams
Stephen Sefton
Eric Keune
Brian Weatherford