Since February 2017, the New York City Department of Design and Construction has been conducting renovations on the 25th Street Plaza. According to a statement issued by Katharine T. Cobb, vice president of administration and finance, the underground construction began in order to “replace aging underground infrastructure” in advance of the above-ground construction. Both will result in a completely renovated plaza.
A statement released by Lisa Edwards, assistant vice president of campus facilities, on May 19 announced that the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York would be replacing the cooling towers on the roof of the Newman Vertical Campus. While the cooling towers are replaced, temporary cooling towers, “about the size of two back-to-back 18-wheeler trucks,” were installed on the plaza. These temporary towers provided cooling for the building in the absence of the standard towers.
As of press time, approximately half of the plaza is closed off to pedestrians, presumably because of one or more of the aforementioned projects. More specifically, the asphalt section of the Third Avenue side of the plaza is under construction, diverting all pedestrian traffic to the sidewalks on either side.
While The Ticker’s editorial board understands that such projects and project-related detours are necessary, the editorial board hopes that the administration understands the great importance of outdoor areas at Baruch College, as well as the accessibility of such areas. Baruch, unlike some other CUNY colleges, such as Brooklyn College and Queens College, does not have much in terms of outdoor areas. These outdoor areas do a great deal for students who are looking to eat, read, relax or study far away from the walls of the NVC, but not too far away. Closing off approximately half of the plaza takes so much away from the already limited outdoor area students have on campus.
Also of concern is the level of use that the plaza will be allowed to see once this construction sees completion. Many popular Baruch events, such as the annual Homecoming hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government, benefit from being hosted on the plaza. Other events that benefit from being held on the plaza, such as Convocation Day and the Hindu Student Association’s Holi on the Plaza, will not be hosted there for the time being due to construction.
Beautifying the plaza with personalized pavers and benches is a commendable act, but The Ticker urges the administration to remember that the plaza’s accessibility is paramount, and thus should not be lost in the journey to beautification.