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 groundbreaking 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:
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.
Soon after the building was completed, construction workers staging a Vietnam War counter-demonstration rushed the building and attacked Pace students. To learn more about this incident, "Protest."