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Hughes Hall Construction Set to Open by August 2012

Gabelli Students and Faculty Look Forward To Their New Home in the Remodeled Dorm, Which Is Slated


Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 04:04

Photo Credit: Sarah Ramirez/The Ram

Inside Hughes Hall, construction workers continue to transform the old dormitory into the new business classrooms.

The new home of the Gabelli School of Business is on track to open in the fall of 2012, two years after the Fordham’s Board of Trustees approved the $30 million renovation of Hughes Hall in February 2010.

Although construction work began outside of Hughes in October  2010, construction on the actual structure only began last spring, according to John Spaccarelli, director of facilities and special projects.

“We had to do a lot of preparation before we actually started the heavy construction,” Spaccarelli said. “But we’ve been working on it full-blown now for just about a year. We’re probably in the area of about 70 percent complete [as of late March].”

Construction is currently on schedule, and the building will be ready to welcome students and faculty come August.

“We’re expected to [reach] substantial completion, which means basically everything will be done, and we’ll get our temporary certificate of occupancy that will allow us to move into the building towards the end of June,” Spaccarelli said. “That’s what we’re aiming for.”

The new Hughes Hall will give the Gabelli School its first permanent home since the college was established in 1920.

 “We have over 2,000 students in our school,” Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of the Gabelli School of Business, said. “It just seemed really appropriate for us to have one primary space we could call home, a space where we could bring students together, along with faculty and the administrative team, a real academic community.”

Rapaccioli said that the opening of Campbell and Salice-Conley Halls was the “perfect opportunity” to move residents and to renovate Hughes from a dormitory to an academic building.

The opening of Hughes will alleviate overcrowding in other academic spaces, though GSB will still have administrative offices and a trading room on the fourth floor of Faber Hall.

“Our current location in Faber is not sufficient in terms of resources available for faculty, administrators and students,” Tim Lynch, GSB ’13 and USG executive vice president of Gabelli, said. “Our cramped quarters on the third and fourth floors of Faber are not conducive to working on collaborative group projects or supporting an ever-increasing student base.”

Along with approval of the project, the Board of Trustees allocated $10 million of funding for the $30-million budget. The remaining $20 million was part of the $25-million donation made by Mario Gabelli, GSB ’65,  to what was then the College of Business Administration.

“We’re probably going to come in right around our budget,” Spaccarelli said.

Construction on Hughes, which was previously a dormitory, has consisted of several phases, starting of the excavation of the building’s basement level.

“The reason we had to lower the floor and not raise the roof is because we have to keep the building under a certain height,” Spaccarelli said. “That was one of the biggest challenges, to undermine the entire building and add to the foundation while the building is still intact.”

The next hurdle for construction crews was replacing the original wood infrastructure with steel.

“The first thing we did is we [demolished] all the floors and all the bedrooms, and we completely took out everything, only leaving the floors,” Spaccarelli said.

Steel beams were then inserted through the roof and windows to create a grid to hold the building in place before removing the wood flooring in favor of concrete floors.

“Once the steel structure was in, we took out the wood structure and that is really what held us in place,” Spaccarelli said.

With these changes, the only original part of Hughes that remains is the stone structure itself.

The most visible change on the outside of Hughes thus far is the removal of the copper mansard roof.

“We took the entire roof and rebuilt it [with a glass structure] which now houses a mechanical house,” Spaccarelli said.

About half of the glass mansard acts as skylights in offices on the fifth floor. The rest covers the machinery outside of the building.

Other visible renovations include the new entrances facing the north and south sides of campus. The old entrances from Hughes’ tenure as a dorm now act as emergency exits.

Construction is now in its final stages.

“The rest of it is what we call the building outfit, or fit out. And that's really all of your interior walls and bathrooms, classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, that's just the ‘fit out’,” Spaccarelli said. “That’s the stage we're in now since all the heavy work is completed.”

The building, which will hold approximately 400 students at a time, will have six classrooms and two meeting rooms, including an honors classroom and a trading room.

“The classrooms have all the high tech equipment as far as video conferencing and projectors,” Spaccarelli said.

In addition to classrooms and offices, each floor has open spaces and seating.

“A lot of the space [is] so that you can do teamwork and work projects because that's a big part of our pedagogy—learning on teams,” Rapaccioli said, who was involved throughout the planning process. “It's really kind of set up so that on every floor there's an opportunity for every group to engage — faculty, students and administrators.”

“The other thing that we did is that we created some centers or hubs within the building,” Rapaccioli said.

This will give students the opportunity to meet with advisors about study abroad opportunities or future career paths.

Gabelli students, however, are not the only ones that will benefit from the renovations.

“The building is open space and everyone is welcome in the building,” Rapaccioli said. “A lot of Fordham College students do a business minor so they'll certainly be having classes in there.”

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