Fordham Breaks Ground on $250M Facility

Fordham Law School in GlobeSt.com, May 03, 2011

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NEW YORK CITY-The expansion of Fordham University’s eight-acre Manhattan superblock is beginning to take shape, as faculty and city officials symbolically broke ground on a $250-million new School of Law and undergraduate residence hall here at Robert Moses Plaza Monday evening. The 22-story facility, designed by architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, is scheduled for a 2014 completion at 62nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.

Calling it a “transforming event” in the university’s Lincoln Center campus, keynote speaker Dennis G. Jacobs, chief judge of the second circuit US Court of Appeals, said Fordham law’s fundraising campaign helped raise more than $400 million toward construction of the facility. The structure is part of a $1.6-billion total redevelopment of the campus, which when completed, will feature new graduate schools of business administration, social service and education, each with residence hall space; an expanded library system; a theater, gallery, bookstore and café.

“In New York City, the most decisive way to stake your claim on the future is to build,” Jacobs said. “The spirit of the city’s ambitions and institutional values have always been expressed in the medium of real estate.”

According to a statement from the university, the 468,000-square-foot law school will offer 26 classrooms, lecture halls and conference rooms, as well as a 562,000-volume library and moot and trial courtrooms. The law school will occupy the lower nine stories in the building, while a residential tower for 430 undergraduates will rise above.

With more than 100 colleges and universities throughout the five boroughs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the city’s academic stature as a “fundamental driver” of the city’s economy, with Columbia University and NYU also planning major expansions. “We are in amidst a global competition for the best and the brightest, and we want New York City to remain the center of innovation and industry,” Bloomberg said. “We have to keep growing our educational institutions, keep investing in our quality of life and keep great talented minds here in this city and give new ones reasons to come here and stay here.”

The city OKed Fordham’s expansion plans in July 2009, but the project had its share of controversy. Residents of Alfred Condominium on West 61st Street filed a lawsuit against the city arguing that they violated an urban-renewal deal at the Lincoln Center site, but a New York state judge upheld the city’s decision in August 2010.

At the forefront of these community negotiations was Borough President Scott Stringer, who said the development was “the best possible outcome” for the university and surrounding Upper West Side residents. “The skylines of this city have to change, and when they include the opportunity for people to come to these magnificent educational facilities, that is very important to this city,” Stringer said.

Designed to compliment Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House and performing arts community, Harry N. Cobb, founding partner at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, noted that the location “will fulfill a civic duty to the two interrelated communities beyond its walls,” the university and the larger West Side neighborhood that adjoins it. “For Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, this will provide a new northern boundary to Robert Moses Plaza where we are gathered here today,” Cobb said. “We have sought to ensure that this institute of higher learning will also be used to shape the public realm of the city that is its home.”