Master Plan Set Into Motion

Plans For First Phase of Construction To Be Completed By “End Of Calendar Year”


Published: August 27, 2009

With the Master Plan officially approved by the New York City Council, the administration of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) is beginning preparations for the first stage of construction. The first project will be a 22-story building for the new Law School and freshman dormitories, according to Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of FCLC.

According to Grimes, the top half of the new building will house freshmen, and the bottom half will replace the Law School. Grimes explained the importance of this building, “By freeing up the Law School building… this gives the college additional space that we very much need.”

Administrators have already begun planning the layout of the building, which was designed by Harry Cobb—an associate of I.M. Pei, who designed the pyramid of the Louvre.

“We have the construction documents a little more than 50 percent complete, and we will have them complete by the end of this calendar year,” said Brian J. Byrne, vice president of Fordham.

Once the construction documents are completed, Byrne said, “[Fordham] will file for a building permit, and that takes months to get, so we are not looking until sometime later in 2010 to get construction started.” Byrne said the building will take approximately three years to complete.”

Construction of the building will be funded by “gifts that have been received and designated for that purpose, and fundraising money from the Capital Campaign,” according to Byrne.

This building is the first of many projects that comprise the Master Plan.  Since the main discussion on buildings thus far has dealt with location and square footage, no other buildings have been designed, according to Grimes.  “I won’t see [the Plan] completed in my lifetime,” he said.

This absence of definite plans for future buildings under the Master Plan has caused much concern from the surrounding neighborhood, according to Helen Rosenthal, chairperson of Manhattan Community Board Seven (CB7), the representative body of the community surrounding FCLC.

Rosenthal said that she is “pleased” with negotiations between FCLC and the local community regarding the height of certain buildings and the design of the new law school, but that she is wary of the design of the other buildings and the role CB7 will have in determining that.  The foundation for these concerns is that CB7 has, “no official capacity…to play a role after we do our vote,” Rosenthal said.

“After the Community Board passed [the Plan], we were actively engaged with Fordham until the Council vote,” she said.  “But now the only official role that the Community Board has is that we are just an interested party.”

The major part of the Plan that is causing the local community apprehension, Rosenthal said, is a building that will be constructed along Columbus Avenue.

“Who knows what will go up there?  The community is going to have to live with that building for a very long time,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said she hopes to continue negotiations with the administration of FCLC, and that CB7 would be “delighted” to work with FCLC in the future.