Fiterman Hall’s path from Point A—when it first opened in 1993, to Point B—when the new Miles and Shirley Fiterman Hall officially re-opened on August 27, 2012, wasn’t an easy one.
However, Fiterman Hall would have never been rebuilt after 9/11 if it weren’t for New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Community Advisory Committee, who willed Fiterman Hall to thrive.
These individuals were recently honored at a Recognition Ceremony, held at the breezy, expansive Fiterman Hall terrace, which overlooks Lower Manhattan, Wall Street and the Hudson River.
At the event, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said, “As I stand in this marvelous space, I can’t stop thinking sometimes dreams really do come true; light can emerge from the dark.”
Other honored guests who spoke at the ceremony included Steve Fiterman, son of Miles and Shirley Fiterman; Philip Berry, Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees and a BMCC graduate; CUNY Vice Chancellor Iris Weinshall and Alliance for Downtown New York Chairman Robert Douglass.
BMCC’s President Dr. Antonio Pérez moderated the event.
This ‘fabulous facility’
“On 9/11, when 7 World Trade fell against Fiterman Hall, the face of Lower Manhattan changed forever,” said Pérez. “Our friends made the rebuilding happen. With their help and support, we were able to reconstruct and recreate this fabulous facility.”
He added: “This is a great morning for the college, the city, and most importantly, our students. BMCC is part of a community that cares deeply about every individual who comes here to learn."
CUNY Vice Chairperson Philip Berry said he was “grateful and thankful” to be a graduate of BMCC.
“This building, and what it represents, makes it possible for others to start here and these people contribute to the fiber of our city, state, country and world,” he added, while unveiling a special plaque.
According to Berry, the silver plaque—adorned with the BMCC logo—“represents the Fiterman Hall Advisory Committee, who ensured the safety and well-being of the community during the reconstruction process.”
Berry also acknowledged BMCC’s current and former students who “continue to be involved in this rebuilding process,” and the Fiterman family for “their constant and steadfast support.”
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who led the World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee and worked closely with Manhattan’s Community Board 1, was a special honoree at the ceremony.
“Sheldon Silver led the effort to rebuild Fiterman Hall,” praised Berry. “His efforts made sure we stayed on target.”
Silver called Fiterman Hall a “beautiful, modern building,” adding, “It’s wonderful to be standing here."
He expressed appreciation for the communication among everyone involved in the building’s reconstruction.
“Through an open and thoughtful procedure, we guided the construction of a new Fiterman Hall—that’s how we do it in New York,” said Silver. “This project was done the right way, the best way, and is a shining example of Lower Manhattan’s inspiring rebirth. I’m proud to have had a part in getting the job done.”
Pérez thanked Silver for his perseverance, calling him “a contender who cared about the college and about us.”
Fiterman is “first-class”
CUNY Vice Chancellor Iris Weinshall said Fiterman Hall “belongs to everyone,” and praised Speaker Silver for “forging relationships between the community and Lower Manhattan.”
Catherine McVay Hughes, Chair, Community Board 1, agreed with Weinshall’s sentiments.
“The opening of Fiterman Hall after 11 years was a process the community was also involved in,” said McVay Hughes. “Fiterman Hall attracts people from all over the city and is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all these skyscrapers."
Weinshall added, “For me, this new building signifies hope, advancement, and growth for the city and country. It represents a resurgence for CUNY and for BMCC.”
She called Fiterman Hall, “a first-class academic building,” and acknowledged architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners for creating a structure that “feels open and innovative with large windows and spiral staircases.”
Yvonne Szeto, Partner at Pei Cobb, explained that the architect’s initial concept was “having communal spaces on the north and south side of the building."
“It’s great to see students coming together in the lounges, like a living room," she said.
Miles Fiterman passed away in 1994 and Shirley Fiterman, who resides out-of-state, was unable at attend the event. President Pérez called her on the day of the Grand Opening.
“She still has that warm feeling for the institution,” he explained, calling the Fiterman family “great friends close to me on a personal level.”
Steve Fiterman said his mother Shirley, “sends her best wishes and appreciation for those who helped us reach this monumental day.”
He described his late father Miles as “a businessman, philanthropist and humanitarian,” adding, “yes, my parents gifted the building in 1993 for the benefit of BMCC, but it was more than a gift—it meant a philanthropic interest in helping others succeed.”
Fiterman thanked “those who worked so long and diligently to make this day possible. We are so appreciative.”
The excitement is just starting
The event’s guests expressed their sentiments about the new Miles and Shirley Fiterman Hall.
Alliance for Downtown New York Chairman Robert Douglass called Fiterman Hall, “a great success.”
“I really like this space; it’s such a functional building,” he stated, adding, “Fiterman has been truly re-energized.”
His colleague Elizabeth Berger, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York concurred.
“BMCC is such an important anchor in our community,” she said. “It’s a fantastic, breathtaking building.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, and everyone cheered the friends of Fiterman Hall, President Pérez excitedly announced, “Hang tight, everyone—the Fiterman Hall journey has only begun!”