UB's 1 Capen ‘Heart of the Campus’ project opening in July

One-stop hub to transform student experience


Students will no longer have to truck around campus in search for offices to answer their questions about financial aid, advising and parking.

Starting in July, students will have one place on North and South Campus that will meet their needs: 1 Capen and 1 Diefendorf, respectively.

The 1 Capen initiative will transform Capen, Norton and Talbert Hall. It will be a one-stop hub where all essential offices on campus are located. Offices include: Financial Aid, Campus Dining & Shops, UB card office, Parking and Transportation, Health Insurance, Registrar, Student Recruiting Unit, Student Advising, etc. 1 Diefendorf will be a smaller-scale version of 1 Capen.

The Spectrum sat down with Dr. Scott Weber, vice president of Student Life, along with the UB steering committee to discuss the project and the committee’s hopes.

The 1 Capen project spans 17,000 square feet and has a combined $12.9 million budget with the Silverman Library. The budget is funded by SUNY’s capital funds.

This project is part of UB’s Heart of the Campus Project, which aligns with UB’s 2020 master plan.

“The goal is if you come here, we are going to meet your needs to the maximum extent possible and we will not direct you to another office who will direct you to another office,” Weber said.

The committee said this project is student-centric and intended to enhance the university experience.

“The first week of school I can’t tell you how many parents and students I try to direct around campus,” said Ron Van Splunder, manager of architectural support. “We used to pass out maps and say ‘you have to go here, then you have to go here.’ Now I can just point to one place, which will be great. To me that is huge.”

Andy Stott, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, says it’s important to have a “central hearth” and a sense of a “front door” to campus. He said many students have questioned what the construction is about. Stott hopes the project will “seamlessly” integrate into UB student life.

“I think it will really help tell students that they belong,” said Kelly Hayes McAlonie, director of Capital Planning. “Everybody is coming together. With a campus this large, I imagine it’s easy to feel that you’re one of many. I think when everyone comes together, there’s a sense of community.”

This project also includes the “Buffalo Room,” a new space for special university events, such as addresses from President Satish Tripathi or Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Weber said this room will be a “high-end space.”

A Global Market – an estimated two-year design and construction process – is also on its way to replace Bert’s food court. This space will be modeled after Crossroads Culinary Center with food stations, variety of choices, rotating daily menus and longer service hours.

“We’re a global university, we want to serve our global population,” Weber said.

Weber is hoping an entrance on the North Campus Promenade will be available.

Weber said the entrance to the Silverman Library will also become more accessible and “obvious.” The entrance will be moved to the second floor where the Student Response Center is.

Administration has not yet made a decision on whether or not Capen Cafe will continue to operate.

Daniel Matthew, a senior communication major, thinks the project is a great idea but is sad he will be graduating and can’t experience the changes as a student. He plans on coming back to UB to see the finished product.

The Heart of Campus project started with the Silverman Library and continues with this next phase.

The 1 Diefendorf project construction will begin over spring break and will open over the summer.

“I think all of us on the steering committee have this vision: there’s somewhere along that corridor where we tell the story of our university,” Weber said. “You know, we really share that pride in the university. We want to provide a superior experience for students and we are committed to that.”

Hannah Stein is a senior news editor and can be reached at hannah.stein@ubspectrum.com