New Building to Double Space at Fordham Law School

Fordham Law School in New York Law Journal, January 24, 2011

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Fordham University will break ground tomorrow for a new combination law school building and undergraduate residence hall on its Lincoln Center campus.

The 22-story, $250 million high-rise is part of the first phase of a $1.6 billion redevelopment plan aimed at cutting down on overcrowding and accommodating the needs of a rising student population.

The law school will be situated in the lower nine stories of the structure, with the remaining floors housing approximately 430 undergraduates.

Designed by the architectural firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the building will face 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

The building "and the ones that follow it, will mean that we can offer a more comprehensive education to more students," the Reverend Joseph M. McShane, president of Fordham, said in a statement.

Bob J. Howe, director of communications for the university, said in an interview that the new structure will have an exterior of cast stone, metal and glass and be more "aesthetically pleasing" than the current structure.

However, he said that its major advantage is that it will double the law school's available space. Office and instructional space and room for student events and activities is at a premium in the 160,000-square-foot school, Mr. Howe said.

"All the things that are the lifeblood of an academic setting, we don't have enough of at Lincoln Center," he added.

In addition to offering 25 audio-visual equipped classrooms, lecture halls, seminar and conference rooms, the new 349,000-square-foot school will boast a two-story atrium, a moot and trial court facility, and a 562,000-volume law library.

The building also will have room for students to interact and meet informally, said Michael M. Martin, the law school's interim dean.

"As it is, we don't have a lot of places for small groups to study, and collaborative work is a big thing for legal education," he said in an interview.

In addition, Mr. Martin said the structure will provide additional space for clinical programs and facilities for faculty to "meet and work together."

Mr. Howe said that the law school's outmoded facilities have been a drawback when it comes to recruiting, and the new quarters will "help us attract the kind of students and faculty we want."

Once the building is completed, programs from Fordham College and the university's graduate schools will be moved into the old law school.

The proposal to transform Fordham's Lincoln Center campus was approved by the New York City Council on June 10, 2009.

The plan will add 1.5 million square feet of academic, student activities and dormitory space to the seven-acre Manhattan campus, which was initially built to handle 3,500 students. As of September 2010, nearly 8,000 students were enrolled in the university, which projects that it will have roughly 11,000 students by 2032.

Mr. Howe said in an e-mail that "the amount of space at the Lincoln Center campus is unacceptably low with a ratio of 106 square feet per student." On average, he said that universities nationwide devote 360 square feet to each student.

Money from Fordham Law's $100 million fundraising drive will help pay for the new building. A ceremonial ground breaking will take place on May 2.