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New York Law School Breaks New Ground for a New Campus

Calling the construction of a new academic building the “physical manifestation of our destiny,” Dean Richard A. Matasar presided over a groundbreaking ceremony on August 1st in the parking lot at New York Law School, which is the site for the new Law School building .

Dean Matasar was joined by Arthur Abbey ’59, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, as well as other Board members, faculty, and staff at the early morning ceremony. The Dean said that New York Law School had been founded by people who were “rebels” who “broke new ground in their time.”

“Today we follow in their footsteps,” the Dean commented. “It’s upon us to break new ground of a different kind.”

Breaking New Ground is the theme of the capital campaign dedicated to raising funds during the construction period.

In June the Law School sold the Mendik Library building to a company which plans to construct luxury condominiums on the site. The library has been relocated temporarily to spacious quarters at 40 Worth Street, until it can move into its new home in the new New York Law School campus.

The sale of the library building enabled the Law School to move forward with its bond sale and the new building and renovation program. Financing for the new building has come from the sale of $135 million in insured bonds issued through the New York City Industrial Development Agency. The bond sale was completed successfully on June 30, 2006.

The new academic building will be a glass-enclosed, 200,000-square-foot, nine-level facility with five stories above ground and four below. The building will integrate with the Law School’s existing A, B, and C buildings, which will be completely renovated after the construction of the new building is completed. The completion of the two-phase building program is slated for Spring 2010.

When completed, the new complex will bring together the Law School’s classrooms, library, student spaces, administrative offices, and professional academic centers in a combined 346,000-square-foot environment. The Law School currently occupies 205,000 square feet of space.

Dean Matasar told the guests assembled for the groundbreaking that the new building was much more than a physical structure.

“The building gives us the platform to do the things that are necessary to create the next generation of lawyers,” the Dean explained. “If we are to be all we can be, we need to make a commitment now to our future students to do all that is needed to allow them to go forward.”

The new building is “a beginning, not an end,” he commented.

In his remarks, Mr. Abbey said that building a new home for New York Law School had been on the minds of the Board and Deans for many years.

“I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that as we break ground today for our new building, this is a moment that has been in the making since 1973,” he said.

Mr. Abbey recalled that when he became a law student in 1957, New York Law School was housed in a single building on William Street, which was later torn down to make room for the New York City police department’s headquarters.

“From there to here has taken a long time and a great effort,” he said, “and I would like to thank all our present and prior Board members for their devotion and hard work to make this possible.”

Mr. Abbey also noted the famous alumni whose photographs adorn the construction scaffolding outside the parking lot:

  • John Marshall Harlan ‘24, appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Dwight Eisenhower.
  • Chester Carlson ‘39, who invented xerography.
  • Wallace Stevens ‘03, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.
  • Elmer Rice ‘12, Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright.
  • Leo M. Cherne ‘34, economist and humanitarian, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.
  • Elizabeth Schenkel ’37 who blazed a trail as the first woman graduate of New York law School at a time when other law schools closed their doors to women and minorities.

“These innovators, scholars, humanitarians, and creative geniuses are part of the DNA of New York Law School,” Mr. Abbey said, “as are all of our incredibly talented and diverse professors, students, and alumni.”

“They say there is a time and a place for everything,” Mr. Abbey commented. “This is the place and now is our time.”