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Feature Story - May 2006

CUNY Construction

University Tackles Varied Goals in a $2.5 Billion Capital Program

by Diane Greer

Burgeoning enrollments, facility upgrades, and a renewed emphasis on the sciences are driving a new construction program at the City University of New York.

The 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, and graduate, law, professional studies, and biomedical education schools that make up the university already serve more than 200,000 degree candidates and another 220,000 continuing education students in more than 300 buildings. And enrollment is up 16 percent since 2000.

The need for space and for facility and program upgrades dominated the new capital plan adopted last year by New York City's public university system, said Emma Espino Macari, the vice chancellor of facilities planning, construction, and management.

"When we put together our second five-year plan, we identified a need for close to $10 billion worth of construction," she said.

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Eventually, budget constraints forced Macari's team to narrow the capital construction plan to $3.5 billion, and in mid-2005, the state legislature and governor funded it at $2.5 billion over five years.

Macari said various factors are helping to shape the overall construction program, including the system's increasing enrollment and the need to expand and upgrade the university's aging building stock. Other trends coming into play include sustainable design strategies, flexible space-use features, and an overall effort to make new structures more functional for modern higher education needs.

But cost pressures have still made the program difficult to plan, Macari said. Construction material costs, originally estimated in the plan adopted last year to escalate at 2 to 5 percent, have skyrocketed by 20 to 25 percent because of the impact of last year's Gulf Coast hurricanes on the marketplace. The cost spikes have delayed the start of several projects, Macari said, including a new School of Architecture building on the City College campus in Manhattan.

To maximize available capital resources, Macari said CUNY is negotiating plans for public-private partnerships that will leverage the location of attractive development sites in order to create mixed use projects.

"Some of our facilities are sitting on valuable land that has a lot of air rights," she added. "We are selling those air rights to developers, and they are building us academic facilities at the bottom of the buildings."

For instance, Macari is finalizing an agreement to sell the air rights over a building at City College of Technology in downtown Brooklyn. The existing structure onsite would be demolished, and Renzo Piano of Italy has been hired as the architect for a new mixed-use facility that would replace it.

Macari said she also is exploring similar air-right sales and mixed-use projects for Hunter College on Manhattan's Upper East Side and in the Jamaica section of Queens.

New Projects across the System

The common denominator across the capital program is an attempt to address the university's pressing academic needs, said Meghan Moore-Wilk, director of space planning and capital budgets.

"The academics drive everything we do," she added.

For example, a new 600,000-sq.-ft. building planned at 11th Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan for John Jay College of Criminal Justice specifically targets overcrowding in the rapidly expanding academic program.

"Even with the new building, John Jay will have one of the lowest square-foot-to-student ratios in the system," Moore-Wilk said.

The $457 million North Hall project will include a 14-story tower clad in a glass curtain wall. A low-rise structure with a landscaped outdoor area on its roof will link the tower to John Jay's existing Haaren Hall.

The project was slated to begin earlier this year, but legal issues have delayed demolition at the site. A major stumbling point is a pending agreement with Amtrak, the passenger rail carrier, to ensure proper ventilation of a rail tunnel running beneath the site.

Another glitch is a dispute with the current tenant of a building on the site that would be demolished to make way for the new facility. The tenant recently lost a challenge of its eviction under eminent domain proceedings, according to Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which acts as the program manager for various CUNY projects.

Another program with significant space needs is Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Macari said her team recently completed the acquisition and conversion of a bowling alley into a student services building and purchased a city sanitation garage across the street, which will be taken down to make way for a $159 million, 188,800-sq.-ft. academic building.

Construction was slated to begin in April on the new building designed by New York-based Polshek Partnership. A joint venture of New York-based Turner Construction and Philadelphia-based McKissack and McKissack is managing the project, which will be bid out for subcontractors in 19 separate packages under a set-aside program for minority contractors. Work would be complete in April 2010.

Modern science facilities comprise another prime feature of the new capital plan because CUNY's chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, has made it a priority, Macari said.

"The chancellor has declared this the decade of science," she said.

In that vein, two new science buildings, costing $381 million and totaling 390,000 sq. ft., are planned on the system's flagship campus at City College of New York in Harlem.

The 189,000-sq.-ft. CUNY Advanced Science Research Center will focus on biosciences and biosensing studies and will serve all of the system's campuses. The second 200,000-sq.-ft. building will house a science academic program specifically for City College.

Kohn Pedersen Fox and Associates of New York and Flad & Associates of Stamford, Conn., are jointly designing the two science facilities, on which construction is slated to begin in July 2007 and finish in August 2009.

Another project that is likely to be built green is a $60 million, 55,000-sq.-ft. science building at Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx, which will focus on plant science and ecology.

"At Lehman, we are shooting for LEED silver certification," said Eduardo Del Valle, director of design and construction management for CUNY. He added that some of the planned features could include the installation of wind turbines and a living machine, which employs plants in greenhouses to purify wastewater from the building and in turn recycles that water for use in toilets and urinals.

The Lehman facility is under design by Perkins + Will of New York and is slated to have construction begin in June 2008 and finish in June 2010.

Flexible space use is another primary focus of the capital program. Moore-Wilk said that workrooms, study spaces, and computer labs throughout the university will be prepared to accommodate classes as enrollment increases.

Fitting Out a New J-School

by Diane Greer

The $2.5 billion, five-year capital plan eventually approved last year for the City University of New York didn't include one project that was still being hashed out in the office of Matthew Goldstein, the system's chancellor.

"We did not know the chancellor wanted to have a graduate school of journalism when we did our five-year plan," said Emma Espino Macari, vice chancellor of facilities planning, construction, and management for the university.

So last spring, when Goldstein's office announced the creation of the new CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the facilities team had to add one more task to its list. And it has moved quickly on it.

Preconstruction work began earlier this year, and pending final permits, construction was slated to start in March on the $10.7 million project that will build out space that could not be more fitting for the new program. The school will occupy 57,099 sq. ft. on the third and fourth floors of the former headquarters of the New York Herald Tribune on West 41st Street, where a CUNY research foundation occupies most of the rest of the building and will remain in place.

And rising beside it is a 52-story tower that will be the new headquarters for the New York Times Co.

Build-out of the space will create classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, a newsroom, TV and radio studios, and editing rooms, said Mark Varian, president of John Gallin & Son of New York, which is construction manager for the project.

To accommodate soundproofing needed for the studios and editing facilities, the project team will pour a 4-in. concrete slab over the existing floor slab. In some areas where an original two-story-high space was divided to create two floors, the project's engineers expressed concern about the structural integrity of the lighter slab, so the team will instead pour a thinner layer of concrete over soundproofing insulation, Varian said.

On the west side of the old 20-story Herald building, the project team will block windows facing the Times tower, which is rising only 6 in. away. The team must also remove some mechanical equipment and reroute infrastructure piping because of the proximity of the Times tower.

The project entails installation of energy-efficient windows and construction of a staircase linking the two floors. The team will also marry new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems with existing utilities in the building. A new air-conditioning system also requires replacing the cooling tower on the roof.

"We are replacing it with new cooling tower cells that are much more up to date and efficient," Varian said.

Construction of the space is slated for completion in late summer. To accommodate the aggressive schedule, Gallin issued separate bid packages in late winter for the windows, staircase, some of the structural work, and the cooling tower.

"We want to get those things started, knowing full well that we will be down to the wire with the formal build-out," Varian said.

Key Players
Developer: City University of New York
Building Owner: 230 West 41st Street LLC
Construction Manager: John Gallin & Son, New York
Architect: Thomson Architects, New York
Mechanical-Plumbing-Electrical Engineer: Concessi Engineering, New York
Structural: Anthony M. Giudice Consulting Engineers, New York
Audio/Visual-Acoustic Technology: Harvey Marshal Berling Associates, New York
Lighting Design: Hayden McKay Lighting Design, New York

The flexible push will especially apply to the science facilities, Moore-Wilk said. Laboratory space will be open, flexible, and shared.

"This allows bench space to be assigned by the size of the grants," she added.

The university's construction program also calls for replacing obsolete facilities and moving programs into more functional spaces.

For example, at Brooklyn College, a new $116 million, 141,000-sq.-ft. academic building is replacing a recently demolished antiquated structure. The new West Quad building, which has a structural steel frame with concrete decks and is clad in precast brick veneer, glass curtain wall, and metal panels, includes a new gymnasium and pool built to NCAA competition standards, said Frank Frasco, chief project manager on the effort for the Dormitory Authority.

Turner is construction manager and AMCC Corp. of Brooklyn is general contractor on the project, which was designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects of New York. Work is slated to begin this spring and wrap up in July 2008.

Similarly, a $66.6 million renovation of a vacant library on the City College campus will create a new home for its School of Architecture, which is currently cramped in an outdated facility, Moore-Wilk said. The new 105,000-sq.-ft. facility will feature a large atrium with a skylight and a rooftop amphitheater.

Crews began gutting the library last June and removed its exterior.

However, first-round construction bids were over budget, delaying the start of further renovations, Frasco said.

"We have implemented some value engineering and looked at other cost savings components," he added.

The project went out for rebid over the winter.

Viñoly is also designing the architecture center, which is slated for completion in fall 2009.

One of the new capital plan's signature projects will be the reconstruction of Fiterman Hall, which sits near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan and sustained heavy damage from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The new $202 million, 377,000-sq.-ft. building will house classrooms, a library, and instructional facilities for the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

The project awaits U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of an environmental remediation and deconstruction plan for the existing structure. The Dormitory Authority has Requests for Proposals out for decontamination and deconstruction and expects to conduct that work during the spring and summer and start rebuilding in the winter, the authority's spokeswoman Hutton said.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York is architect on the project, which will wrap up in August 2008.

A final theme tying together the varied projects in the plan is an effort to build structures that will have a fitting and long legacy in the system, Del Valle said.

"The emphasis is on good architecture, constructing buildings that are both functional and meaningful," he added. "We are looking to leave behind future landmarks."

Construction Syllabus:
CUNY Projects on the Horizon

Project: Fiterman Hall replacement, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Manhattan
Cost: $202 million
Size: 377,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2008
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, New York
Program Manager: Dormitory Authority of the State of New York

Project: North Instructional Building, Bronx Community College, Bronx
Cost: $77.5 million
Size: 92,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion: Planning/Fall 2010
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: West Quad, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn
Cost: $115.9 million
Size: 140,998 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Construction/July 2008
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Associates,
New York
PM: DASNY
Construction Manager: Turner
Construction, New York
General Contractor: AMCC, Brooklyn

Project: School of Architecture, City College of New York, Manhattan
Cost: $66.6 million
Size: 104,880 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Construction/Fall 2009
Architect: Rafael Viñoly Associates
PM: DASNY

Project: Tower Dormitory, City College of New York, Manhattan
Cost: $44 million (no state or city funds)
Size: 179,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Construction/August 2006
Developer: Capstone Development, Birmingham, Ala.
Architect: Design Collective, Baltimore; Goshow Architects, New York

Project: CUNY Law School renovation and addition, Queens
Cost: $8.6 million
Size: 12,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2008
Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, City College of New York, Manhattan
Cost: $176 million
Size: 189,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2009
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox and
Associates, New York; Flad & Associates, Stamford, Conn.
PM: DASNY

Project: CCNY Science Facility, City College of New York, Manhattan
Cost: $205 million
Size: 200,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2009
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox and
Associates, New York; Flad & Associates, Stamford, Conn.
PM: DASNY

Project: 500 Grand Concourse renovation, Hostos Community College, Bronx
Cost: $12 million
Current Phase: Design
Architect: Goshow Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: New Science Building, Hunter
College, Manhattan
Size: 200,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase: Planning
PM: DASNY

Project: Roosevelt House, Hunter College, Manhattan
Cost: $15 million
Size: 21,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2007
Architect: Polshek Partnership Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: Visual and Performing Arts Center, Hunter College, Manhattan
Size: 160,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase: Planning
PM: DASNY

Project: North Hall expansion, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Manhattan
Cost: $457 million
Size: 600,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/June 2009
Architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: Center III Building 4th floor renovation, LaGuardia Community College, Queens
Cost: $25 million
Current Phase: Design
Architect: Helpern Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: New science facility, Lehman College, Bronx
Cost: $60 million
Size: 55,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/June 2010
Architect: Perkins & Will, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: Academic building, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn
Cost: $159 million
Size: 188,800 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/April 2010
Architect: Polshek Partnership Architects, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: New academic complex, New York City College of Technology, Brooklyn
Cost: $186 million
Size: 262,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/December 2009
Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Italy; Perkins Eastman, New York
PM: DASNY

Project: New science facilities, Queens College, Queens
Cost: $30 million
Size: 25,760 sq. ft.
Current Phase/Expected Completion:
Design/August 2008
Architect: Mitchell/Giurgola Architects,
New York
PM: DASNY

Project: Instructional building, Queensborough Community College, Queens
Cost: $93 million
Size: 102,000 sq. ft.
Current Phase: Planning
PM: DASNY

 

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