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The transformation of Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus has begun. On Feb. 3, construction crews broke ground on the site of what will be the new School of Law and residence hall.
“This is a signal moment in Fordham’s history. Breaking ground this month is a profound act of confidence in the power of wisdom and learning,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “Construction of the new law school and residence hall at the Lincoln Center campus is a key step in the transformation of the University and of Jesuit higher education.
“The new building, and the ones that will follow it, will mean that we can offer a more comprehensive education to more students. It is an investment in leadership; an investment in the rule of law; and an investment in research—in short, an investment in the intellectual heart of New York City.”
That investment began to take shape the moment Joe Mauro of Mayrich Construction drove his four-claw backhoe into Robert Moses Plaza at about 7 a.m. Reversing direction, the bucket came up with a load of snow, broken concrete and soil, which it deposited near the plaza’s interior.
Mauro’s 100-ton excavator soon had destroyed the stairway leading from the plaza to 62nd Street, leaving in its wake an earth-packed construction ramp. Meanwhile, other Mayrich workers used propane torches to dismantle the wrought-iron fence that separated the campus from the street.
Second-year Fordham Law student James Haffner paused to watch the construction. “It’s good for the school, given our need for space and our growing reputation,” Haffner said.
“I know [students]will have to deal with the construction, but there’s always something being built around here,” he added. “In the scheme of things, I’d say this is a more important endeavor than Fashion Week,” which was setting up across the street.
The law school’s new home is the centerpiece of the first phase of Fordham’s ambitious $1.6 billion development plan for the entire Lincoln Center campus. The $250 million law school project consists of a 22-story building, clad in a curtain wall of cast stone, metal, and glass, that fronts on 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. The law school will be housed in the lower nine stories, with a residential tower for 430 undergraduates rising above.
Designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, with Henry N. Cobb and Yvonne Szeto as collaborating design partners, the 468,000-square-foot building will be completed in 2014 and will more than double the Law School’s current program, event, and office space. The structure, which is designed for LEED Silver certification, will feature a two-story atrium, a moot and trial court facility, and a 562,000-volume law library.
Design partner Yvonne Szeto commented: “Fordham’s new law school and residence hall occupies one of the most exceptional sites in the city, just south of Damrosch Park. We have shaped the building with a series of undulating arcs to make an engaging gesture toward Lincoln Center as well as to provide a distinctive identity for the law school. The new building will be a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment that will support Fordham Law’s pedagogical mission and enhance the sense of community within the school.”
The University will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 2 at the Lincoln Center campus.
The comprehensive development plan for Fordham-Lincoln Center, involving all of its schools, is scheduled to be completed by 2033. it is expected to translate into 4,500 to 5,000 construction jobs for New York City over the term of the plan and about 520 permanent and 200 contract jobs.