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Moving Forward, With Fiterman Hall

August 29, 2012

One of the striking architectural features of The Miles and Shirley Fiterman Hall is its multi-story, sweeping windows, which now show stunning circular staircases and airy lobbies, as well as classrooms bustling with students at tables, computers, and in study groups.

This fall, almost eleven years since the original Fiterman Hall was damaged beyond repair on September 11, a spectacular new Fiterman Hall opened for its first day of classes.

“Fiterman Hall is all about moving forward,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez. “It’s not about looking back and trying to reconstruct the past and dwell on all the negative things that we as an institution have had to endure. It’s really about the students’ dreams and aspirations, before us now.”

Indeed, to many of those students, college was still a child’s dream when the original Fiterman Hall was destroyed. “I’ve seen the ‘before’ and after’ pictures,” said Liberal Arts major Yurac Sinchico. “I was in elementary school on 9/11.”

Professor Acté Maldonado, who taught her first Career Planning class of the semester in the newly opened Fiterman Hall, remarked that, “When you get into a new place, it gives you a new perspective, and it’s sort of like wiping the slate clean. The old campus is one way of doing things, and the new campus is invigorating me to do new things, also.”

“That feeling of success”

Welcoming the first wave of students to Fiterman Hall was a complimentary breakfast buffet, and student ambassadors in red sashes who directed people to their classes.

To Criminal Justice major Shamisa Anthony, Fiterman Hall “gives you that feeling of success. It’s a very classy building, with the huge windows and the view, also with the open ceilings, and the unusual shape of the lobby areas.”

“I love the view,” said Science major Kiran Iftikhar. “I think it’s amazing. I can see the whole city. It’s more fun to learn in a nice environment.”

Fiterman Hall is also an efficient environment, traffic-wise.

“I like that you have easy access to class, with the high-speed elevators, the stairs, the escalators” said Liberal Arts major Khalil Smickle.

“The building design for an inner city campus is really ideal for students,” said Josh Wolfson, Chair of the Accounting Department. “The classrooms are airy, they’re bright, they’re windowed, they’re really beautiful. But also, there is space for students outside the classroom; work areas, study areas.”

Education major Nina Lacaprara agrees. “I just started noticing all the study areas,” she said. “There’s tons upstairs, and they’re pretty useful. You don’t have to walk around to find a place to study.”

BMCC’s main classroom building is a few blocks down Greenwich Street, at Chambers. “I don’t mind having the walk from the main building,” said Liberal Arts major Ed Morin. “It’s actually enjoyable to get out and get some fresh air on the way to your next class.”

Business major Guy Fabre puts it like this: “It’s a very easy walk, it’s five to seven minutes away from the main campus, and it’s a great location, downtown Manhattan, or let’s say, the business center of the world. With my major being business administration and me taking classes in the ‘business center of the world’, that sounds pretty impressive.”

Looking forward to making memories

In addition to study and conference areas tucked all over the building, as well as a café, Fiterman Hall offers double-height music ensemble and art classrooms, rehearsal spaces, and performance areas overlooking the building’s inspiring southern views onto the World Trade Memorial Park and rising World Trade Center.

It will also house The Shirley Fiterman Art Center, showcasing established artists and inspiring student artists honing their craft in class.

“I’m looking forward to music and art moving into the building because not many students know about the great art courses we have at BMCC,” said Liberal Arts major Marla Avelar.

Celebrating the first day of classes, a grand piano was wheeled into Fiterman’s north lobby, and a musical program was presented by faculty from BMCC’s Music and Art program—Professors Joyce Moorman, Howard Meltzer, John Uehlein and Ming Kwong on piano; Professor Christine Free singing mezzo soprano and Professor Eugenia Yau singing soprano—as well as guest artist George Dewar on cello.

The works they performed included pieces by Mozart, Fauré, Brahms, Bach, and Rachmaninoff. Music drifted across the sunny lobby as students streamed through the gleaming row of turnstiles, class schedules in hand.

Anthony Estevez summed up his experience of being one of them. “It’s a brand new building, we’re the first ones to see it, and I look forward to making a lot of memories here,” he said.

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