Governor Cuomo Announces Completion of First Phase of Renovations at Baruch College’s Lawrence and Eris Field BuildingRenovations Include New Façade, Lobby and Significant Infrastructure Improvements
January 29, 2021
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the first phase of a $109 million renovation of Baruch College’s historic Lawrence and Eris Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue. This project is the first significant renovation of the building since it opened its doors in 1929 as the City College of New York – the building also sits on the original site of the 1847 Free Academy – both institutions served as precursors to the City University of New York. The completed renovation, part of a six-stage comprehensive overhaul, includes critical infrastructure upgrades to the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, as well as a redesign of the Lexington Avenue façade and lobby to introduce natural light and provide public safety enhancements.
Funding for the $109 million project came from New York State, with additional funding provided by the New York City Council. The City University of New York and The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York managed the construction.
“Ensuring all New Yorkers have access to higher education is one of the most important investments we can make in our communities and our state,” Governor Cuomo said. “By providing our students with state-of-the-art facilities like the renovated Field Building, we can help ensure equitable and quality access to the best that our CUNY system has to offer while attracting the best talent to New York and honoring this institution’s storied past.”
When students, faculty, and staff return to campus, they will be met with a completely reconfigured Lexington Avenue entrance and lobby, including a new glass front entry that allows natural light to spill into an airy, accessible, and inviting space. Other improvements include:
- The installation of a new accessible ramp
- Public safety improvements with the installation of a new security desk and turnstiles in the lobby
- Six modernized elevators with marble walling and flooring and new granite benches along the glass wall
- Terrazzo flooring in the main lobby and elevator lobby
- A new student lounge space on the second floor
- A variety of critical mechanical upgrades, including the installation of a new mechanical plant, chillers, boilers, air handling units, and a cooling tower
- An upgraded Con Edison electrical vault at 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue to provide greater electrical capacity to meet campus needs
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodriguez said, “This multi-million-dollar upgrade of a cherished and historic landmark at Baruch College represents CUNY’s commitment to expanding and transforming its campuses and ensuring that its students have the most modern and forward-looking facilities to pursue their academic goals. We take seriously our obligation to furnish our resilient students with the resources they need to support their studies. Thanks to Governor Cuomo for his rock-solid support of higher education, and to the many state and city officials who championed this project and made it possible.”
CUNY Baruch College President S. David Wu said, “We give our heartfelt gratitude to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and the many state and city legislative representatives, especially our State Senate Representative Liz Krueger, and Assemblymen Richard Gottfried and Harvey Epstein, for their invaluable support in providing the capital funding that has made possible the renovations of this historic building. I also want to extend our appreciation to Chancellor Félix Matos Rodriguez for prioritizing the upgrading of CUNY facilities. These critical improvements to the Field Building will ensure that our facilities meet the demands of a 21st Century education. They will help us to advance Baruch’s mission as an innovative leader in higher education – not only as a catalyst for social mobility, but as an institution that achieves academic excellence at the highest level for students of all backgrounds and ages.”
Senator Liz Krueger said, “Congratulations to President Wu and Chancellor Matos Rodriguez on bringing Phase 1 of this important project to completion. The improvements to the Field Building at 17 Lexington bring this building into the 21st century by creating a more functional and appealing entryway, improving accessibility and a commitment to environmental sustainability while preserving the character of this important part of New York City history. I look forward to working with CUNY and Baruch leadership on Phase 2 of this project.”
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried said, “The completion of the first phase of the renovation of Baruch College’s Field Building is a milestone well worth celebrating. As the son of two parents who both received their higher education at New York City public colleges, there are few causes more important to me than preserving access to affordable higher education in New York, and I’m proud to have helped play a part in supporting State capital funding of $109 million to restore this beautiful and historic building.”
Assembly Member Harvey Epstein said, “Thanks to my colleagues in government and to Baruch President Wu and Chancellor Matos Rodriguez for their role in bringing this project to fruition. As a CUNY graduate I know firsthand the vital role that CUNY plays in creating more leaders who can serve our city and state. For that endeavor to be successful, our students need the best infrastructure available—that is what this project represents. I look forward to continuing to fight for investment in CUNY for the benefit of the students and educators that make it the world class institution that it is. As we face down a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, we know that the key to ensuring we can provide the best public education and other public services is having the courage to raise taxes on people that have the good fortune to be able to contribute to our state’s recovery and future prosperity.”
New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera said, “I want to congratulate Baruch College on the sustainable renovation of the Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue, which will provide such critical educational space for students across New York City when students head back to campus after the COVID-19 pandemic end. I’m proud to have dedicated nearly $1.8 million in Council capital funds for this project, and I look forward to working with City and State leaders to continue to invest in an affordable, accessible, and world-class education system at CUNY.”
The Field Building, known to Baruch and the surrounding community as “17 Lex,” occupies the same site where the Free Academy opened its doors in 1849. When fully renovated, the Field Building will be a state-of-the-art facility with smart classrooms, updated science labs, a student lounge and offices for faculty and staff.
Plans to renovate the building were first drawn up in 2008, and the project was split into six phases. Construction began on Phase 1a in 2017. Future stages will completely overhaul the building, with a strong emphasis on sustainability.
The College worked closely with its designers to preserve key architectural details. The building is a historic part of the Gramercy neighborhood, and its ornamented Italian Renaissance revival style façade will remain almost entirely intact.
More information on the history of the project and plans for the future can be found here.
About Baruch College
Baruch College provides students with the skills, knowledge, and perspectives to pursue their aspirations in today’s global environment. Part of The City University of New York, Baruch is also listed among the nation’s top public colleges for academic excellence, affordability, student success, and value. Its three schools educate more than 19,500 students who represent one of the most diverse college campuses in the country. Strong career and support services drive Baruch’s national recognition as an engine for social and economic mobility. Through executive education, continuing studies, international partnerships, public events, and arts programming, Baruch stands out as an intellectual and cultural resource for New York City and the world. baruch.cuny.edu
The City University of New York
The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.