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In the immediate post-war period, as the school expanded, President Robert S. Pace frequently reminded the trustees of the urgent need for more space. The trustees responded in 1949 by authorizing the purchase of 290 Broadway, but the sale did nottake place because the architects and engineer engaged by the college to inspect the building uncovered structural problems. The board then proceeded to explore the possibility of purchasing some lower Manhattan real estate from Columbia University and erecting a new building. After Columbia rejected the Pace bid for the property bounded by Barclay Street, Greenwich Street, Park Place and West Broadway, the trustees decided to purchase 41 Park Row.

Built in 1858 for The New York Times , the building had been expanded over the years, from five to sixteen floors. By purchasing 41 Park Row, the college acquired 110,000 square feet of usable floor space, compared with the 61,000 square feet it occupied at the time of purchase. According to Charles T. Bryan, chairman of the board of trustees, speaking to an overflow crowd at the 1951 Pace commencement in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria, acquisition of the former newspaper building "would permit the college to add a number of desirable features that are not now practicable."Among the improvements envisioned by the trustees were an auditorium, cafeteria, sizable library, science laboratories and gymnasium. Mr. Bryan added: "Space will be available for increased student activities. Space will be available for alumni affairs to serve the more than 70,000 former students."

1  Alumni were especially enthusiastic about the new building. The Pace Alumni Magazine reported in the fall of 1951 that the renovations were already underway and that 50 classrooms, rather than the 35 occupied by the college in its rented quarters, would be available. Plans for the library, which was to occupy two entire floors, included shelf space for 50,000 books and one seat for every three students. As for recreational facilities, the magazine declared, "Facilities in the sub-basement will include regulation size bowling alleys, a large swimming pool, a full-size handball court, and a gymnasium. Extending from the sub-basement into the basement, a balcony with seating space for spectators will overlook the swimming pool. A similar balcony is also planned for the gymnasium. The bookstore, a sixty-five-foot shooting range, shower rooms and locker rooms are also among the facilities planned for the basement."

 

The plans for the recreational facilities turned out to be a bit too ambitious, but the renovations needed for strictly academic pursuits were completed. To finance all of this, the trustees authorized a development campaign and appointed the college treasurer, Frederick M. Schaeberte, as Director of Fund Raising.

While Mr. Schaeberle raised the necessary money, work progressed at 41 Park Row. As the approximately 100 commercial tenants moved out, the renovators set about their work in different parts of the building. Changes in the overall plan were also considered. For example, the trustees discussed the possibility of creating living space for the President in the new building. Given the fact that President Pace spent between twelve and fourteen hours per day at the college and was obliged, at times, to do official entertaining, the idea had merit but no action was taken.

Once the last commercial tenant, the Old Times Cafe, vacated its space on the ground floor of 41 Park Row, the renovations went full speed ahead. By April 1953 the college was holding classes in the building. A temporary certificate of occupancy had been issued by New York City pending the completion of all planned renovations and some fire safety improvements.

The well-being of everyone at the college had always been President Pace's top priority. Before 41 Park Row was ready for occupancy, the President organized daily fire safety patrols of 225 Broadway and regular inspections at 41 Park Row to prevent fires during reconstruction of that building. In 1959, following a devastating fire in a Chicago school, Pace College examined its fire safety program. Although an unannounced inspection by the New York City Fire Department uncovered no violations, the college augmented its fire prevention program by installing sprinklers and automatic detection devices.

1 Making 41 Park Row safe and attractive certainly enhanced the college's academic environment, but even before the final touches, which included a plaque dedicated in 1959, were put on the historic Times building, it was evident that Pace needed additional space. In the spring of 1959, 4000 students and 150 faculty members were fully utilizing all sixteen floors of the new building. Despite a public assertion that a day student population of 1,200 would be optimum, the trustees were unwilling to cap the institution's growth at a time when they felt that "the opportunities for a downtown university in this City of New York are almost limitless." They therefore set about finding new space for expansion.

 

Discouraged by the high price of land in lower Manhattan, which at the time cost approximately $45 per square foot, the trustees heeded President Pace's suggestion "to muscle in on a Title I Housing Project." This was the genesis of the Civic Center building. With characteristic speed when it came to real estate matters, the trustees authorized the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to undertake a preliminary study for a new Pace campus and college officials began negotiating with the City of New York. While it would be years before the Pace Civic Center building would be erected, the wheels had been set in motion and once again, Pace College was on the move.

 

During the years that Dr. McAloon was guiding the development of Pace Pleasantville, the New York campus was keeping up with Westchester in terms of growth and change. Convinced that the College had an important role to play in Manhattan, President Mortola envisioned a vital and considerably larger New York campus. In his annual report to the trustees, in November 1960, Dr. Mortola said:

In the community immediately surrounding Pace, an amazing renaissance is taking place. Under the leadership of such men as David Rockefeller and John Butt of the Lower-Downtown Manhattan Association, a tremendous building program has been stimulated. Not only the great Chase-Manhattan Building, but also Dun & Bradstreet, Western Electric, RCA, many insurance firms, and others too numerous to mention have taken part in the great Lower Manhattan building boom. Housing, too, now plays an increasingly important part in the Downtown community, and with the creation of the Civic Center, the future erection of a new Municipal Office Building, and a new Federal Center, government, too, is adding to the spirit of vital growth that characterizes this area. Pace must find a way to build in this bustling community. New offices mean more people in evening classes, and expansion to meet the increasing demand will be inevitable. This will be especially true within a few years when Pace becomes the only undergraduate evening College in Downtown New York as Fordham University moves its City Hall Division to its new Midtown Campus at Lincoln Square.

That Pace College needed additional room in lower Manhattan was undeniable. Enrollment was at a post-war high and the 41 Park Row building was bursting at the seams. The long-term solution was an impressive new building but, in the interim, the classroom shortage problem had to be solved. One way out of this dilemma was to lease space at 150 Nassau Street. The College attempted to secure 15,000 square feet of sublet space from an insurance company which, in the early 1960s, occupied several floors of the 150 Nassau Street building, but Pace ended up buying the entire building, renovating part of it for use by the College and leasing the remainder to outside tenants.

By the start of the spring semester in 1965, twenty-three classrooms, a student lounge, and faculty and counseling offices were in use at 150 Nassau Street. The previous year Pace had rented space at 225 Broadway for use by the Graduate School. Renovations at 41 Park Row, in addition to the utilization of space at 140 Nassau Street and 38 Park Row, both of which were purchased in 1972, and 148 Nassau Street, enabled the College to function efficiently through the early 1970s. The crowning jewel of the New York campus, the Civic Center Building, was completed in 1969.

The Civic Center Building was much more than a structure designed to house classrooms, offices and a dormitory. Even before ground was broken for its construction, the building was envisioned as an integral part of a major urban redevelopment project for lower Manhattan. Known as the Brooklyn Bridge Southwest Title I Project, the redevelopment scheme was to have included New York Law School, which withdrew before the project reached the hearings stage. The South Bridge Towers middle income housing complex remained part of the project, however, as did a new Beekman Downtown Hospital. For a time, hospital and college officials considered the possibility of jointly undertaking construction of a parking facility. Pace decided not to go ahead with this, but the College's original plan for the erection of a multi-use building was unveiled in May 1966 when a detailed model of the $12 million campus center, designed by the architectural firm of Eggers & Higgins, was placed on display.

In December 1966 a gala ground-breaking ceremony was held. The principal speaker at the ceremony was Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who didn't seem to mind the fact that the temperature had plummeted from a balmy 60 degrees the day before to 29 degrees with frigid winds. Addressing a crowd of 1,000 seated under a green tent on William Street, just across from 154 Nassau Street where the New York Tribune building was being demolished to make way for Pace, Mr. Humphrey said that Pace was "where it ought to be - where the action is." During the actual ceremony, there was considerable action in the vicinity. A wrecking ball and bulldozers were busily demolishing the Tribune building while, at the same time, providing some less than desirable background noise for the ceremony. A block and a half away from the speakers' platform, 35 placard-carrying antiwar protesters were being held back by the New York City police as they demonstrated against the bombing of North Vietnam.

None of this prevented Vice President Humphrey or New York Mayor John V. Lindsay from completing their remarks. When the platform party descended to participate in the actual ground breaking, Lindsay playfully held reporters at bay by threatening to shower them with dirt for having climbed onto chairs, while almost knocking people over, in order to get pictures of the historic event. Quite aside from the fact that Pace's new Civic Center complex would include the first student dormitory built in lower Manhattan since the eighteenth century when Columbia University, then known as Kings College, was located in the area, the ground breaking was historic because of the nature of the new building which would rise on Nassau Street. A construction industry publication described the structure in glowing terms:

The horizontal five-story "teaching element" structure will be so constructed as to block city street noises from filtering into classrooms... Corridors along the perimeter of the building will serve as a "sound moat" to exclude the noises of surrounding city streets.
Stairways and utility rooms will also be located at intervals around the building's perimeter, rather than placed in the core of the building as is usually done. This will permit later expansion without interruption of use of any part of the building.

Two and a half years later, the new building was a reality. The dedication took place on September 14, 1970; nearly two years earlier, on October 8, 1968, what had been known as Printing House Square, just outside the Civic Center complex, was appropriately renamed Pace Plaza. It had been only 62 years since the young accountant Homer St. Clair Pace had rented an office a stone's throw from here. In a little more than six decades the institution he and his brother founded had become a vital part of the metropolis.

 

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