Remembrance and Resilience
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is the only college in United States history to have lost a campus building to a terrorist attack. Fiterman Hall was donated to BMCC by in 1993 by Miles and Shirley Fiterman, and provided about a third of the College’s classroom space. On the morning of 9/11, BMCC faculty and staff in Fiterman Hall — just a few blocks from the Towers — heard the explosions and helped people into ambulances who were injured from falling debris.
In the hours that followed, BMCC helped the Port Authority of New York create a triage in the gym at the College’s main campus building at 199 Chambers Street, using first aid kits and other supplies from the BMCC Nursing Department. Generators were also set up and 199 Chambers Street became the Command Center for the New York Port Authority.
Then at 5:20 on the afternoon of 9/11, World Trade 7, across the street from Fiterman Hall, collapsed and fell against it. More than seven stories of debris piled against a corner of the building and it became uninhabitable. BMCC Building and Grounds workers, safety staff, administrators and volunteers gathered their efforts at 199 Chambers Street, where they stayed more than two weeks, working around the clock and sleeping on cots.
Coming Back to Campus
In the weeks that followed, President Antonio Pérez led efforts to enable classes to resume at BMCC and appeared on CBS news with reporter Lou Young, reassuring the BMCC community that the college would reopen. Administrators, staff, faculty and students personally called more than 10,000 students to let them know they could return to school on October 1 — less than a month after the attacks.
As lower Manhattan got back on its feet, Fiterman Hall was razed and rebuilt. This was made possible by a public/private partnership between the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the Office of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, The City University of New York, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NYS Department of Labor, the NYC Department of Transportation and others.
Groundbreaking took place in 2009 and the new Fiterman Hall — a 14-story building that houses the Shirley Fiterman Art Center, 65 classrooms, 35 computer labs, 130 offices for faculty, library spaces, open spiral stairways, a conference center and more — opened in September 2012.
BMCC Executives Remember 9/11
Education Dive, September 11, 2017
12 Years Later, article written by President Antonio Pérez
HuffPost, November 11, 2013
Manhattan Borough Community College Building Damaged on Sept. 11 Emerges As A Reconstructed Jewel
CBS News Channel 2, August 25, 2012
CUNY Building at Ground Zero Nears Completion After 11 years
The New York Times, June 29, 2012
BMCC Remembers 9/11 Ten Years Later
BMCC, September 7, 2011