University students momentarily displaced after building collapse near campus


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Emily Shafer, News Editor

A four-story parking garage at the heart of the University’s New York City campus collapsed on April 18 at 4:15 p.m. Located at 57 Ann St and next to the University’s 161 William and 33 Beekman buildings, the structure collapsed from the fourth floor all the way to the cellar level, totaling cars, displacing residents and killing one worker.

University students were immediately evacuated from 33 Beekman and 161 William as students and University officials waited for information on what had happened. Students and New York City residents originally thought an explosion went off, but it was confirmed later by law enforcement that the building collapsed from its unstable structure and the weight of the cars on the fourth-floor roof deck and there was no foul play suspected.

Emergency personnel rushed to the scene in minutes and students crammed against the windows of One Pace Plaza, confused and concerned, trying to get a view of the chaos as the area was being sectioned off. Firefighters were deployed into the rubble to search for anyone potentially trapped underneath the collapse but were later recalled and replaced with robotic dogs and drones as the structure was deemed “completely unstable,” according to Mayor Eric Adams in a press conference.

FDNY officials confirmed that there were only six people in the building at the time of the collapse, all of whom were employees at the garage. Five of them were injured and one worker was pronounced dead. One of the injured workers denied medical assistance and the others were rushed to the hospital and are reported to be in stable condition.

At 4:29 p.m., the University sent an alert to all students and staff through their Emergency Alert System and social media accounts: “EMERGENCY ALERT: Please be advised of a building collapse near the Pace NYC campus. Members of the Pace community should avoid William, Ann and Fulton St.”

According to the New York City Department of Buildings, there were four open violations for that parking garage. One of the violations, from 2003, described a “failure to maintain [the] building” and one from 2009 stated a “loose piece of concrete in danger of falling at various

University students who dorm in Beekman or had class in 161 William St were immediately directed toward One Pace Plaza while officials worked to clear the scene and investigate the stability of surrounding buildings.

Residential Life posted on their Instagram, @pacenycreslife: “Pace staff will be stationed in Student Center West, the Library and in Cafe 101 to share information and provide support. Snacks and beverages will be provided in Student Center West. Phone charging lockers and charging cables are available from the Library.”

A second update was sent out from the University at 5:03 p.m. and explained that, “Following the partial collapse of a building near our NYC Campus, all classes on the NYC Campus will be canceled. 33 Beekman and 161 William have been evacuated and accommodations are being made for our residential students.”

University junior Ellie Sierzchula, who lives in 33 Beekman, was pleased with how the University managed the aftermath of the event. “The University handled it surprisingly well. They kept us updated and made sure we were all safe.”

Another student, Madalyn Johnston, a junior majoring in Arts and Entertainment Management, was in her dorm room at the time of the collapse. “I had come home from class and was sitting in my dorm room with my roommate when we both felt the building shake. We looked at each other and just knew something was wrong. Next thing we knew, we were running down 27 flights of stairs after being told to evacuate immediately. I was worried about the students with disabilities making it out with the elevators being so full. I’m very glad we all got out and I hope everyone is doing all right,” she stated.

33 Beekman residents were allowed to return to their dorms after the New York City Department of Buildings cleared it as stable at 9:03 p.m. on the same day. Students in five rooms on the lower levels were moved out of an abundance of caution as the garage is demolished.

The following day, on April 19 at 10:08 a.m., President Marvin Krislov sent out an email to the entire University. “I write this morning thankful for the safety of everyone in the Pace Community… The Lower Manhattan community comes together during such times, and we appreciate the efforts of first responders and the outreach of so many of our neighbors who have offered assistance.”

A message following that a few hours later, from Brian Anderson, Executive Director of Emergency Management, stated that 33 Beekman and 161 William St are both structurally safe. The air quality in the neighborhood is being monitored by the Department of Environmental Protection as they safely demolish the building. They are advising that all windows remain closed for the time being.

The parking garage will likely collapse further during the demolition and collection of vehicles and will likely be felt by buildings in the area. Though 161 William St was deemed safe, it will remain closed for the rest of the week as the demolition takes place.

The University has urged students to monitor their student emails and the University website for more updates. They have also notified all parents and family members of University students via email informing them of the events and of the status of the two University buildings.