"Trailer Heroes" of BMCC Build at CCNY
|Judith Berke, a CUNY
Project Coordinator based at City College, reports on
the construction of a "blink of the eye" temporary campus
for Lower Manhattan students in Morningside Heights.
Miles and Shirley Fiterman presented 30 West Broadway to Borough
of Manhattan Commu-nity College in 1993, history was made:
it was the largest capital gift ever given to a United States
community college. When Tower 7 came crashing down on it on
9/11, the bad news was just as historic. Renovation of Fiterman
Hall (as it was later renamed) was nearing completion, and
the building's 82,550 square feet of much-needed classroom
space was about to come fully "online."
Much of Fiterman was already in use, and replacing these classrooms
became an instant necessity. With downtown space at a premium
and much of the neighboring area in chaos, it was impossible
to find appropriate rental classroom space quickly. CUNY Vice
Chancellor for Facilities Emma Macari issued an all-points
plea for immediate assistance from within CUNY and the extended
educational community (donations of furniture and equipment
came from as far away as Michigan).
Temporary structures were investigated, and, with the help
of Chancellor Goldstein, six trailers first intended for the
Board of Education were instead speedily delivered to 199
Chambers Street, allowing classes to resume there on October
Within six days of the disaster, CUNY planners had investigated
various sites and other campuses for additional temporary
structures, and City College was identified as the strongest
possibility because of its location in the same borough and
the availability of outdoor space in CCNY parking lots.
Enter the "Trailer Heroes," commanded by Joanna Pestka, director
of CUNY's Department of Design, Construction, and Management.
With many prospective users skeptical that classrooms could
be made ready within the blink of an eye, Pestka pulled together
a team of architects, engineers and contractors, tenaciously
bulldozing obstacles when they arose.
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) was
able to move on the project immediately because it had a slate
of pre-qualified consultants and contractors on call. Helpern
Architects and Lakhani & Jordan Engineers quickly prepared
contract documents according to the scope of work and obtained
expeditious approval of the entire project from all the relevant
Then Tom Zakarian (the DASNY project manager), TDX Construction,
and the contractorsBeys Construction, Kullman Industries,
Lund Fire Products, Siemens, and SJ Electricswung into action
to meet the January 27 deadline, the first day of Spring Semester.
The challenge: pour 800 concrete piers, install trailers to
accommodate 840 students and faculty, and lay out 14,000 square
feet of decking, stairs, and ramps be-tween the trailers.
The contractors cooperated on a level not often expe-rienced
in the industry, working long hours seven days a week. They
kept their eyes on the goal and met that date. As the trailers
were connected to electric, to water and heat, everyone began
to sense that the first day of classes was really going
to be the first day of classes. It took just six weeks to
get the trailers installedthe fastest 30,300 square
foot installation CUNY has ever experienced.
Of course, CUNY and BMCC made sure there was a "topping off"
party where the "trailer heroes" were fed, thanked, and applauded.