Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, walks by an elevator shaft in Salice Hall. Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Fordham University celebrated a milestone in the construction of two new residence halls with a topping off ceremony on July 16 at the Rose Hill campus.

The ceremony, which typically occurs when the last beam is placed on a structure, was held in honor of Campbell Hall and Salice and Conley Hall.

The buildings’ completed steel skeletons could be seen from a tent pitched on a lawn near the construction site, where Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, thanked about 120 construction workers and dignitaries for their efforts.

“I want to thank the men and women who have labored … to make sure that Conley, Salice and Campbell Halls will rise in time for us to welcome an additional 460 students to our residence halls next year,” Father McShane said.

“I want you to remember where Fordham is,” he told the workers. “We want you to think of this as a second home, a home which, by the way, you’re building.”

John Giammarella, president of Gotham Construction, which is in charge of the site, noted that celebrating the topping of a structure dates back centuries, and is of particular significance to tradesmen and women.

“Today, in the construction industry, it represents the safe and successful attainment of the highest point in the structure, which we have achieved,” Giammarella said. “While a great deal of work needs to be done to complete the buildings, we at Gotham know that we can rely on the commitment of our subcontractors and, especially, the trades personnel to get the job done on time.”

After a benediction by Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., vice president for University mission and ministry, the workers enjoyed a lunch buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and macaroni and cheese. Giammarella, meanwhile, donned a hardhat and led Father McShane; John Tognino, chairman of Fordham’s Board of Trustees; and assorted dignitaries on a tour of construction site.

Salice and Conley Hall, which is named for Thomas P. Salice (CBA ’82) his wife, Susan Conley Salice (FCRH ’82), already has been outfitted with pipes and electrical components in the ceilings of the first floor, and cinderblocks that close off the walls.

Giammarella explained that Campbell Hall, which is named for Robert E. Campbell (CBA ’55) and his wife, Joan M. Campbell, is getting these accoutrements later due to its proximity to Fordham Road.

Both buildings are on schedule to open their doors to students in the fall of 2010.

The tour ended at a one-story mockup of the new buildings’ exteriors, which will be a mix of slate and stone. Victor W. Vizgaitis, principal of Sasaki Associates, the architects who designed the buildings, said that in choosing the visual features, his firm aimed to complement—but not replicate—the look of any building on campus.

“We wanted to pick up on a common language, to get a sense of what Fordham feels like,” Vizgaitis said.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.