In Memoriam: Dr. Michael Horodniceanu
The entire NYU Tandon School of Engineering community mourns the June 22 passing of Industry Professor Michael Horodniceanu, a member of our alumni community since 1978, a valued member of our faculty, and most recently, the founding chair of the IDC Innovation Hub.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Michael Horodniceanu emigrated to Israel as a teenager. There he studied at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1970. That year, he and his wife, Bat-Sheva, moved to New York City and settled in Forest Hills, Queens.
Horodniceanu became a member of the Tandon family in 1975, when he came to the then-named Polytechnic Institute of New York to commence his doctoral studies in Transportation Planning and Engineering. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1978, he embarked upon a transportation career that included a stint as the New York City Traffic Commissioner in the Administration of Mayor Ed Koch (from 1986 to 1990).
In 2008 he took on a monumentally influential and celebrated role: President of MTA Capital Construction. In that capacity, he oversaw a long list of challenging and ambitious projects, including the completion of the first phase of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway, the construction of the new South Ferry Station, the openings of the Fulton Transit Center, and the ambitious extension of the Number 7 line. In addition, he completed 75% of the East Side Access initiative bringing Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Terminal — and he was known for taking just as much delight in giving tours of the project’s subterranean passages to schoolchildren as to top elected officials.
Soon after leaving the MTA in 2017, Horodniceanu returned to the halls of his alma mater, accepting a post as an industry professor in Tandon’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering. He also became the chair of the newly launched IDC Innovation Hub — an organization whose mission is bringing together owners, designers, architects, contractors, civil engineers, academicians, and other stakeholders to advance the science of delivering building projects in faster, more cost-efficient, and more sustainable ways.
His leadership of the Innovation Hub was a continuation of his service to the city he loved and the field in which he had made an indelible mark. Unbeknownst to them, millions of New York City commuters benefit from his efforts every day.
Our sincere condolences go to Bat-Sheva, to whom he was married for more than five decades; his sons, Oded and Eran and their wives; and his four grandchildren.
The family asks that anyone wishing to honor his memory do so by making a contribution to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Memories from colleagues:
"Mike played a pivotal role in shaping the infrastructure of New York City. His contributions will forever be etched in the fabric of our urban landscape. However, Mike made an even bigger impression on students and colleagues alike, leaving an indelible mark on all who had the privilege to work with him. He brought visionary leadership, unwavering dedication, commitment to excellence, and his ability to bring together diverse stakeholders to his personal and professional activities. I recently heard a story that to me perfectly encapsulates Michael’s passion for civil and urban engineering and his empathy for people. When he was being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he would chat with his nurses about the Second Avenue Subway project and would ask if they rode it to work; it made him so happy when someone said yes and thanked him for improving their commute. I’m thrilled he got to hear directly how he had made a positive impact on the lives of hard-working New Yorkers."
– Magued Iskander, Chair of the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering
“Michael was a pivotal figure in our city’s transportation landscape and devoted much of his career to improving conditions for countless commuters. He also helped make our school an important hub of transportation engineering and research for the benefit of New York City and beyond. We are grateful for his expertise and insight and for having had the chance to work with him. We will miss him greatly.”
– Dean Jelena Kovačević
“Micheal and I first met as academic colleagues who transitioned as business partners and morphed into a friendship that lasted 48 years until his death. I first met him in 1975, when he joined the New York Polytechnic University (Brooklyn Poly) Transportation Department as a researcher in transportation safety. His work ethics and assertive personality attracted my attention and I invited him to join a small group working on an analysis of goods movement at the Fulton Fish Market, in Manhattan. After he earned his doctorate in 1978, he joined our newly formed traffic and transportation planning firm (Urbitran) in 1980, where he became a partner. He left Urbitran in 1986 to accept the position of NYC Traffic Commissioner until 1990, after which he rejoined Urbitran and expanded its services into civil engineering design and construction management. He left Urbitran in 2008, when it was sold to AECOM. I will remember Michael’s caring personality, his commitment to excellence, and his attention to details. But, above all, I will miss a friendship of a lifetime."
– John Falcocchio, Emeritus Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering
“Michael was a big man with a diversity of interests, talents, and expertise but most importantly a man with a big heart, big ideas, and big impacts. I had the good fortune of working with Michael most recently on the critical challenge of advancing our nation's infrastructure. We both believed infrastructure to be a most powerful catalyst in advancing both economic and social imperatives. In like manner, Michael himself was a tremendous catalyst in his endeavors in both the public and private sectors. His impacts on individuals, communities, and wider society will live on and be his legacy.”
– William Raisch, Executive Director of the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP)
“Michael and I first met when he was at Urbitran and I was the Eastern Marketing Manager at Sverdrup (now Jacobs). We worked on a major proposal together (and won the assignment!) and remained friends for close to 35 years. More recently when he was the President of MTA Capital Construction and I was the Global Director of Corporate Communications at Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP), he readily accepted when I asked if he would address the leadership of the firm and speak about mega-projects and working in New York City. This was Michael - always giving, always ready to share stories, and always eager to help a friend. I will remember his focus on honesty, his humor and garrulous laugh, his bow ties, and his curiosity. But most of all, I forever will cherish his friendship.”
– Judy Cooper, Associate Director, IDC Innovation Hub