By: Noam Feifel  | 

Redesigned 185th Street Plaza Coming Soon to Wilf Campus

The 185th Street Plaza, located in the heart of Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus, is getting a makeover. Situated between Amsterdam and Audubon Avenues, the street was converted into a pedestrian thoroughfare and has been blocked off from traffic for years. A regularly populated gathering spot for Yeshiva students and members of the local community, the plaza is now being redesigned and is currently under construction.

A joint effort by Yeshiva University and New York City’s Departments of Design and Construction, the project aims to upgrade the plaza from the underwhelming, relatively dull character that it has exuded for years now, and transform it into a more modern, decorated recreational area.  

“The goal of this project is to convert what used to be a temporary linear plaza, with limited seating, into a fully designed area consisting of a series of small and medium size gathering spaces for all,” explained Shavone Williams, NYC Department of Design and Construction Officer. “The proposed plaza will largely benefit Yeshiva's students and personnel as well as the surrounding community by creating a peaceful and quiet atmosphere where one can enjoy individual or small groups gathering for passive recreation.”

The redesigned plaza will embrace a myriad of new features that will enhance its atmosphere, such as ornamental street lighting, movable seating fixtures, decorative paving band, and new planted spaces.

The refreshed plaza will be home to different types of perennials, native grass and shrubs, trees and ferns. "We're adding a considerable amount of green space," said Michael Michalek of Mathews Nielsen Landscapes, one of the project's architects.

The construction got underway this past summer, and has an anticipated completion date in the upcoming summer, though Joseph Cook , YU’s Executive Director for University Operations, shared that the project may be completed as early as the spring.

Students have expressed excitement and eagerness towards the promise of the new landscape soon to be debuted.

“I’m really pumped up,” said Syms junior Josh Morrow. “I’ve been waiting for them to fix that area up. I’m definitely going to hang out there more when it’s ready.”

Stern sophomore Sammi Plotsker echoed the same anticipation. “I always love coming up to the Heights,” said Plotsker. “But now I’m even more excited to head uptown knowing that I can meet with friends and do homework at this beautiful new spot.”

Due to its central position within YU’s uptown campus, a primary function of the redesigned plaza will be to enhance the college’s student life. “The driving force behind the project is what drives YU – to provide the students with a great academic and campus experience,” explained Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Yeshiva University Vice President of University and Community Life at Yeshiva University. “This plaza will create a park-like space on our urban campus. Students will be able to enjoy a new place to sit, relax, and engage in conversations with their friends and faculty. Having more greenery will be attractive and, I expect, will enhance our spirit. This is great for YU and our community in Washington Heights.”

Little quantifiable progress can be currently seen on the plaza, but the construction crew has been doing daily underground work to lay the foundation for what promises to be a beautiful landscape modification to the Wilf campus. Although students and local residents have to settle this semester for views of hard hats and machinery, they can rest assured that views of greenery and a more beautiful campus are soon to come.