After a 35-year Temple career, Marvin Gerstein retires
Marvin Gerstein (right), director of planning and design in the Office of Facilities Management, and colleagues Andy Riccardi (left), construction and engineering director, and Tom Dinardo, director of support services, dubbed themselves the “Three Amigos” several years ago. The three, who worked closely for many years in the OFM, got together for this photo during Gerstein’s retirement celebration last month.
What he won’t miss is the daily commute up and down I-95.
What he will miss are the people.
“This place is really the people,” reflected Marvin Gerstein, director of planning and design in the Office of Facilities Management, who retired on Aug. 30, capping a 35-year career at Temple.
“Facilities Management can be somewhat of an invisible department,” he said. “The people who do the work — the housekeepers, groundskeepers, truck drivers, mechanics, engineers — are in a sense part of an invisible world. When the floor of a classroom is shiny and clean every morning, no one usually gets credit for it.”
Like that shiny, clean classroom floor, countless projects on Temple’s campuses bear the invisible stamp of Gerstein’s hand. And the list is long. He has managed the design and development of the Tuttleman Learning Center; TECH Center; the James White, 1940 and 1300 residence halls; Edberg-Olsen football facility; IBC Student Recreation Center and the Student Rec Pavilion; the Ambler College Learning Center, Greenhouse and Headhouse; the Joe First Media Center in Annenberg Hall; the renovation of the Johnson/Hardwick dining facility and Klein, Barrack and Shusterman Halls; and the renovation and expansion of both phases of the Student Center.
Three white shovels lean up against a wall in his office, symbolic of the ground breaking ceremonies for the Apollo of Temple (now the Liacouras Center) and the Tuttleman and Ambler Learning Centers.
When he arrived at Temple in 1971 as an associate in what was then the Office of Campus Planning, he plunged immediately into a portfolio of responsibilities that included physical, fiscal, and academic planning and analysis as well as linkage with neighboring community organizations.
There were difficult times, he recalled, as the University embarked on major capital development and expansion into a neighborhood that was not always welcoming.
“When I got here, there were still row houses on Broad Street where Wachman Hall stands now. I’ve been here long enough to see such amazing changes.”
And he’s been a hands-on part of Temple’s transformation, advancing to assistant, associate and then director of the Office of Physical Planning, which became the Office of Planning and Design under the Office of Facilities Management.
Yet 35 years later, it wasn’t until his plans for retirement became a reality that Gerstein took the time to reflect on the “amazing changes” he has played a major role in bringing about.
“I get immersed in a particular project from the pre-design study, working with the client group on campus to determine their needs, preparing and issuing the RFP for the design, working with the architectural firm to translate those needs into a conceptual floor plan, and of course making sure that when I deliver a project, I’m bringing it in under budget.”
Factor in overseeing the design and development of the building’s systems (plumbing, heating, electrical), the selection of materials to be used, compliance with city codes and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and construction drawings that document every element of the project from landscaping to doorknobs — all this before a shovel of dirt has been dug and ground broken — and it becomes clearer just what “planning and design” really means.
“Marvin is the essence of a professional, knowing how to get the job done and interacting with any and every level at the University. And he has a great sense of humor,” said colleague Tom Dinardo, director of support services, who, with Gerstein and construction and engineering director Andy Riccardi, dubbed themselves the “Three Amigos” several years ago.
Gerstein has only the highest praise for Dinardo and Riccardi, with whom he has worked closely for years. “After the planning and design phase, the project gets handed over to Andy, who takes bids from contractors for the actual construction and oversees that the building is actually built as designed. I am the budget policeman during the design phase, keeping the project on schedule and on budget.
“Once construction starts, Andy takes over policing duties, and I assist him in making sure that the design is carried out. When the building is completed, it is Tom’s group that keeps the facility in order and served with the day-to-day materials it requires.”
He dismisses the inevitable on-the-job stresses (“all projects have the same aggravation in common”) and instead focuses on “the excitement of taking something from non-existent to something that is extremely visible, like the new Student Center, or the TECH Center, seeing kids using it and knowing it’s made a difference in our students’ lives.”
At a retirement celebration for Gerstein on Aug. 30 at the Diamond Club, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart said, “His fingerprints are all over campus ... it’s about beauty and respect for the physical environment in which we work ... We will all enjoy your contributions for years to come.”
— Harriet Goodheart