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Where Halls of Ivy Meet Silicon Dreams, a New City Rises

Two buildings at Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus in west Harlem are set to open this year. The Renzo Piano-designed Lenfest Center for the Arts, center, and Jerome L. Greene Science Center, right, are part of the first phase of the school’s biggest expansion in more than a century. Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

To see higher education in New York City being transformed, you have only to pick your vantage point.

From the roof of a residential Columbia University high-rise on Riverside Drive, you can watch excavators digging into the earth and workers putting the finishing touches on two new Renzo Piano-designed buildings, the first phase of the school’s biggest expansion in more than a century.

From the tram to Roosevelt Island, you can take in the geometric glass structures serving as the backbone of Cornell’s new technology campus.

And from Downtown Brooklyn, you can watch the moribund former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority being transformed into a sleek, applied science hub for New York University.

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