When an electrical fire broke out in the basement of 2 West 13th Street, home of hundreds of Parsons School of Design classes, last week, members of the university community sprung into action.
Faculty members, Making Center staff, facilities and security personnel, members of the New York City Fire Department, and students worked together to evacuate the SJDC and get everyone to safety.
“I know I speak for everyone in our New School community when I say how relieved we were that no one was injured,” Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers said in a community message.
But their efforts didn’t stop there. As a result of the incident, 2 West 13th Street was forced to close, threatening significant disruptions to 600 classes and Making Center capacities in the lead up to finals — a critical time of the semester. However, by working creatively, collaboratively — and quickly — New School staff were able to identify regular homes through the end of the semester for classes in 2 West 13th Street.
“That we have found a way through this phase and are now working to refine those spatial shifts is nothing short of extraordinary and we want to highlight the work of the Academic Planning and Making Center teams as well as the faculty and staff across all of the schools at Parsons,” Towers added.
The Provost’s Office, the Dean’s offices of the other Colleges at TNS, the Registrar, Facilities, Security, the General Counsel’s office, and students all played a critical role in that process. Additionally, more than 70 events were impacted by the fire. In response, the university’s Public Programs team has worked with university partners around the clock to relocate and/or reschedule those events.
Parsons has also had a hand from members of The New School and New York City art and design communities, who opened their doors to Parsons students while the leading art and design school works to restore its facilities. Parsons’ printmaking activities are currently being housed at New York University, Pratt Institute, Lower East Side Print Shop, Robert Blackburn Studio, Ribuoli Digital, Manhattan Graphics Center, and BRT Printshop; ceramics work is taking place at Wedge Ceramics and Greenwhich House; and fashion and textiles capacities have been moved to Industry City and the Textiles Art Center.
“While this work underscores our resilience, we would be remiss if we did not recognize the strain of the fire and the aftermath it puts on various communities of Parsons and others at the university as well,” Towers said. “We feel it will be essential to reknit those communities as best we can in the weeks ahead to support not only the normal pressures of the end of the academic year but our long-term well being. That is our focus going forward and your help, as always, is essential to our success.”