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Alumni Contributing Expertise to BRIIC Construction

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Pictured from left: Sal Diana, Chris Czenszak, Marissa Marzullo, Don Booth, Jesse Curreri, Nick Haralambidis, and Spiros Dandouras

Alumni from the School of Architecture and Design and the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, among others, represent some of the many professionals from several organizations coming together to help develop the first major construction project on the Long Island campus in decades. The Biomedical Research, Innovation, and Imaging Center (BRIIC) is the state-of-the-art facility currently being constructed in the former 500 Building to provide researchers with new opportunities to advance discoveries and potential treatments for pressing health conditions and biomedical challenges. The facility is anticipated to expand New York Tech’s research footprint and further its strategy to become a Carnegie-classified Research 2 university by 2028.

“It is an exciting and gratifying opportunity to now be leveraging our professional experience, gained over years in the field, on behalf of New York Tech, where many of us were educated,” says Donald Booth (B.S. ’91), vice president for Capital Planning and Facilities.

Booth heads the project, which is on target to be completed during the first quarter of 2025. The project team includes Director of Design and Construction Nick Haralambidis (B.S.A.T.’96) and Senior Project Manager Jesse Curreri (B.Arch.’12). Curreri provides daily project oversight and on-site coordination. He also manages the many consultants, including architects, contractors, lab planners, and civil, mechanical, and structural engineers working on the BRIIC. Another primary responsibility is to keep the “client” informed of progress and to seek input on any possible scope changes, given that the research center is being constructed to fit within an existing footprint. Nicole Wadsworth, D.O., dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), is that client.

Architecture, design, engineering, and project management consultants that are or will be working on the project include Buro Happold, DLR Group, Jacobs, Napach Design Group, Sherwood Design Engineers, Turner Construction Company, and Zubatkin Owner Representation. College of Engineering and Computing Sciences’ alumnus Sal Diana (B.T. ’07) is a project manager at Turner Construction, a North America-based international construction services company serving as the BRIIC’s third-party construction manager. Diana is also the lead point person, procuring a variety of long-lead items needed for essentially every aspect of the construction project.

Milestones in Sight

In terms of progress, after the existing structure was fully gutted a few months ago, infrastructure—including underground utilities and plumbing—was installed. Overhead mechanical infrastructure such as HVAC ducts, ventilation lines, and fire sprinkler systems installation is soon to start, and in the coming months, walls will be framed out. Director of Facilities Operations Spiros Dandouras (B.S. ’93, M.A. ’95) and his team were integral in the development of the facility’s mechanical and electrical systems.

Other early work includes lab construction guidance and recommendations, as the 20,000-square-foot facility will include a 2,880-square-foot open laboratory space with 48 lab benches designed with flexible infrastructure to accommodate additional researchers. Chris Czenszak (B.S. ’03), a lab planner at Jacobs, a provider of professional services, including consulting, technical, scientific, and project delivery for the government and private sector, is advising New York Tech on the requirements, specifications, components, and materials for the full spectrum of the lab space, which will also feature fume hoods, tissue culture rooms, a freezer room, and an autoclave.

Another milestone that Curreri is focusing on in the coming months will be to ensure that electrical power is available in the building. To that end, electrical switch gear has been ordered; pandemic-era supply chain issues still impact construction and design projects of all sizes, so active planning and managing change orders as they arise are critical to keeping the project on schedule. Considering that the MRI technology delivery is slated for the autumn, the facility must be ready to accept and accommodate it. Plans call for a 2,000-square-foot functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suite dedicated solely for research purposes.

There are many other planned deliverables and looming deadlines within the BRIIC’s scope of work. Another alumnus likely to be working on the project is Thomas Maietto (M.S. ’21), a mechanical engineer at Buro Happold, a global practice of engineers and advisors also serving as one of the project consultants. At the peak of activity to ready this new facility, there could be as many as 40 individuals from the various consulting companies on site each day. 

Project Managers Focus on Standardization

Yet, despite the sheer size of the BRIIC project, there are approximately 40 other projects of varying complexity underway or planned at the Long Island, New York City, and Vancouver campuses overseen by the Design and Construction group within Capital Planning and Facilities. Several of these projects are managed by Project Manager Marissa Marzullo (B.Arch. ’18). Marzullo passed her last Architectural Registered Exam (ARE) in February and is now a licensed architect.

Haralambidis shared that an important aspect underlying all projects is the move to prioritize standardizing components, a best-practice approach in the field, to help ensure access to the best products and services in a cost-effective way, as well as to establish a common look and feel, including fixtures, finishes, and furniture, for example, among the university’s facilities. The commitment to standardize components also applies to the BRIIC.  

“We are so excited about our projects and what they mean for New York Tech,” says Haralambidis, noting that it is all about the students and their experiences at the university. “Many of us here came out of the healthcare field, where we led projects with the patient in mind at all times. Our approach at New York Tech is the same, just with the student in mind. And as alumni, we take our responsibility even more seriously, if that’s even possible.” 

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