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Silver Center in 2015
Silver Center in 2015

The Silver Center for Arts and Science (formerly Main Building) is the home of the New York University College of Arts and Science and NYU's Grey Art Gallery. The Dean of the College of Arts & Science and the college administration are located in this facility which forms an imposing landmark on the eastern border of Washington Square Park.

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Are sliver nanoparticles good or bad for you? To help answer this, we thought we'd round up seven facts about silver nano that may surprise you One: Silver nanoparticles are released from silverware. Drink water from a silver jug or eat with a silver spoon and you are drinking and eating silver nanoparticles. As silverware has been around since Roman times we've been doing this for a couple of millenia now and of course if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth you've probably been doing it more than most. Two: People have been intentionally dosing themselves with silver nanoparticles for over a hundred years. Colloidal silver - suspensions of silver nanoparticles in a liquid - were popular before modern antibiotics came along Their use has become widespread again in recent years as a cure for well if you read the claims almost anything apparently. There is no clear evidence that drinking colloidal silver is good for you, but evidence never stopped people from self medicating before. Three: Silver nanoparticles are pretty good at killing microbes but it's the silver ions that they slowly release that do most of the damage. This means you don't necessarily need nanoparticles make products that kill bugs using silver for instance, the Michigan company Crypton makes commercial fabrics used everywhere from Hyatt Hotels to McDonald's that use silver ions to inhibit bacterial growth and products using X-Static silver technology are widely used by athletes, the military, medics, and others. Both companies use silver as an antibacterial agent but as far as can be told neither company uses nanoparticles. Four: It's hard for pathogens to develop resistance to silver nanoparticles because they interfere with microbes in multiple different ways. However, indiscriminate use of silver as an antibacterial agent could still increase the chances a resistance developing which isn't great news if you're relying on it to protect particularly vulnerable patients. Five: If you're exposed to enough silver it'll turn your skin blue, a condition called on Agryria. This is cosmetically interesting but not fatal. In fact it's thought that Royal were originally called Blue Bloods because you guessed it those silver spoons turned their lips delicate shade royal blue. Six: Silver nanoparticles aren't likely to be much more dangerous than other forms of silver in the human body as it's the ions that cause the most damage. Although it's still possible that research may throw up some surprises nanoparticles for instance might find it easier to get to sensetive places like inside cells before dissolving amd releasing their payload of silver ions. And we may still find that the nanoparticles trigger the body's immune system in ways that ions do not. That said a couple of millenia of imbibing silver nanoparticles hasn't thrown up any obvious risk red flags yet. Seven: In contrast silver is bad news for the environment. We learned this with environmental contamination from the photographic film industry. Silver nanoparticles were at least as harmful as the same amount of silver in any other form - possibly more so if the nanoparticles gets places other forms of silver cannot. This has got some people wondering whether putting silver everything from socks and kids toys to bed sheets and carpets is a bad idea. To learn more about silver nanoparticles check out the blurb below and as always please do join the conversation in the comments.


At the time of its construction in 1892, this facility was named Main Building. In 2002, it was renamed the "Silver Center of Arts & Science" in honor of Julius Silver, an alumnus of the College of Arts & Science, who bequeathed $150 million to the college. Renovations have dramatically improved the facility while maintaining the building's many historic features. Main Building previously served as the home of NYU's Washington Square College until all undergraduate liberal arts education was consolidated at the Washington Square in 1973 after the sale of the University Heights campus in the Bronx.

The current building was designed by Alfred Zucker, a German born and trained architect, in 1892. It replaced architects' Town, Davis & Dakin's original Gothic Revival structure from 1835. Zucker maintained the foundation and many other features of the original university building but not the Gothic facade, partially for sake of historic continuity. Today, NYU owns nine other buildings designed by Zucker that were built in this formerly commercial area, as lofts and wholesale stores. The Brown Building of Science (formerly the Asch Building) and the Waverly Building occupy the same block as the Silver Center. The Brown Building was the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which generated many of New York City's current labor laws. The three buildings are internally connected at the ground floor as well as by stairway and elevator (with the idiosyncrasy of adjacent floors that do not correspond by floor number.) The three buildings are known are the "Main block."

The Silver Center circa 1900
The Silver Center circa 1900

Initially, the light brick, stone and terra-cotta edifice housed University College and the School of Law. During those early years, in addition to serving as NYU's main academic building, the university rented offices, studio space and residential apartments within the building and the American Book Company also rented space in the building. This combination of institutional and commercial tenants is apparent in the building's tripartite facade design. The University's academic presence on the three top floors was marked by engaged Ionic columns capped by pediments. In 1927, due to the pressures of a growing post-war student body, NYU ejected commercial tenants to use the space for academic purposes.

Samuel Colt developed the revolver and Samuel Morse invented the telegraph; John William Draper in 1840 took the first photograph in the United States in the original Main Building that the present structure replaced. Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman lived and taught and privately lectured there, Winslow Homer painted there, and architects Alexander Jackson Davis and Richard Morris Hunt had offices there.

This page was last edited on 14 June 2017, at 16:02
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