Phase One Of Expansion Underway


Fordham’s “Master Plan” has begun with the groundbreaking on Feb. 3. The new FCLC campus will follow this blueprint for its first phase. (Courtesy of Fordham University)

Published: February 16, 2011

Ground has been broken and land has been sold; Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s “Master Plan” has been set in motion. After the Feb. 3 groundbreaking on a new Law School and dormitory building, following the sale of Fordham property at 49-55 Amsterdam Avenue, phase one of the Master Plan is underway. By the completion of this first phase in 2014, FCLC will include a complete, new building, located west of the current Law School building.

“It’s not just a Law School building; it’s a residence hall for undergraduates,” Brian Byrne, vice president for administration, said. “Everybody just calls it the Law School building. It’s misleading to call it just that.”

Byrne emphasized that the building, designed by international architects Pei Cobb Freed, will bring a positive aesthetic to the Lincoln Center community. “The building is so distinctive; it will give Fordham a new presence in the community and increased awareness. Byrne said, “With this one project we’re increasing the amount of available space by 56 percent. [It’s] not just a building, but I would say [it’s] about a renewal, a radical change in the landscape of the Lincoln Center campus.”

The relocation of the Law School into the new building from its current location will provide additional space for other Fordham programs in the old law building. At this point, there is no definitive plan for how this space will be distributed among undergraduate, graduate and law programs. Byrne said there will most likely be a decision within a year.

“[The new Law School and dormitory] will help every school on this campus because when we leave the old Law School [building], it gets reprogrammed. Quinn Library will move into the old Law School. It will be above-ground for the first time in its history. And the rest of the building, probably around 135,000 square feet, will be given over to other schools and departments for their use. It’s going to include things like additional eating facilities for undergraduates, additional library space for the Law School and additional library space for the Quinn Library.

“That, in turn, will free up space in Lowenstein as well for undergrads. So everything gets recycled. We haven’t made any decisions; I’m not saying there won’t be any undergraduate programming going on in the Law School building as well,” Byrne said.

After the end of a 40-year period during which city laws prohibited Fordham form selling its Lincoln Center land, the University was able to begin the financing process by selling off a parcel of land at 49-55 Amsterdam Avenue. Private developers paid $125 million for the plot, which is intended for residential development.

“The sale of the land is a piece of developing the first phase of the Master Plan for the Lincoln Center campus,” Byrne said, “The property sales are meant to give the University the financial footing to be able to build [the Law School] as the first piece without ruinously increasing tuition.”

Fordham has another plot of land, located at the northeast corner of Amsterdam Avenue, available on the market. According to Byrne, Fordham hopes to sell it by the end of the school year, “but there are always some complications.”

Complications not only extend to the funding of the project, but also exist within the logistics of the project itself. The initial groundbreaking in February proved to be a difficult task due to surrounding events such as Fashion Week and severe winter weather.

“Obviously having a groundbreaking in February is not ideal for doing excavation. It’s harder to work, your productivity is lower and it’s cold. On the other hand, if you’re crushing concrete and chiseling stone, it’s better because people have their windows closed. We’ll be doing that until probably mid-summer, and then we’ll start putting steel up. That’s when you’ll really see the building come up out of the ground.”

Although the construction broke ground on Feb 3. and changes are underway, the official groundbreaking ceremony will not take place until May 2.