NYIT's Old Westbury Campus Has New York Family Ties

September 16, 2015

When NYIT opened its Old Westbury campus in 1965, it did so on land acquired from Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, scion of two notable American families. The Vanderbilts and Whitneys are synonymous with 20th century business, philanthropy, and culture, including the namesake Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan. They used their Old Westbury property as a country retreat.

NYIT repurposed one of the estate's mansions into the Midge Karr Fine Arts Design Center, which now houses the departments of Fine Arts and Interior Design. Walking inside is like stepping back in time. The front entrance leads into a grand room with high ceilings, wooden staircases, and a fireplace.

Though much of the architectural charm of the original structure is still on view, Midge Karr now features modern updates such as a 24-camera Vicon motion capture lab as well as various computer and prototyping labs used by NYIT's fine arts students and faculty members.

In Midge Karr, interior design students work in studios and special spaces (such as a swatches room for exploring colors and textures) that help spark their creativity.

NYIT converted the former Whitney stables into Education Hall. The Whitneys kept 200 horses in their stables, from thoroughbreds to polo ponies.

Today, architecture students work in design studios in Education Hall.

Communication arts students hone their broadcast journalism skills in Education Hall's television studio.

The work of architecture and design students is also routinely shown in an exhibition space on the first floor of Education Hall.

For more information about the Whitneys and their former estate, read the 1996 New York Times story "On a Slice of the Whitney Estate, a New Subdivision."

This content is part of The Box's "60 Years in 60 Days" series in celebration of NYIT's 60th anniversary in 2015.