Students want Center for the Arts tunnel despite abandoned plans

Art department storage closet once intended to start CFA tunnel

tunnel-closet

Sitara Babury calls her walk from the Center for the Arts the “most dreadful” part of her day. 

And the senior psychology major says the walk only gets worse during the frigid months in Buffalo, as UB doesn’t have an indoor walkway connecting the CFA to the rest of the campus. 

Other North Campus buildings are connected by tunnels and hallways, allowing students to stay warm and dry. Many wonder why the CFA and Alumni Arena aren't connected to the academic spine, leaving students to walk outside between CFA and Slee Hall to get to classes.

But the CFA’s original 1993 construction plans included an indoor tunnel to connect the CFA to the rest of the academic spine, according to Vincent Harzewski, CFA facilities manager. After proceeding with UB 2020, a comprehensive master plan meant “to expand and elevate the university’s stature,” UB dropped plans to construct the tunnel and currently has no plans to do so, according to Kelly Hayes McAlonie, director of campus planning. The start of what would have been the tunnel remains in the basement of the CFA as room B1 –– now a storage closet for the Department of Art, according to Harzewski.

Harzewski said the 1993 plan was to move the School of Architecture and Planning from South Campus to North Campus and construct a new building for the department next to the CFA. 

The new architecture building would have housed the tunnel to connect the CFA with the academic spine. 

“[The School of Architecture and Planning] ended up staying on South Campus, so the building [and tunnel] were never constructed,” Harzewski said.

Now, students are left wishing it was.

Babury takes classes in the CFA for her media study minor and said she isn’t looking forward to walking to the CFA in the snow.

“I wish there was a tunnel to connect the CFA to at least Slee Hall so students have the option to walk indoors, especially when there is mad snow everywhere,” Babury said. 

In 2004, UB began planning for UB 2020, which is part of the reason the tunnel doesn’t exist, according to Hayes McAlonie.

Hayes McAlonie said UB 2020 strives to make UB’s campuses more “functional.” North Campus is meant for undergraduate education and research, the downtown campus for medical education and South Campus is being “revitalized” for professional and graduate work, according to Hayes McAlonie. 

Hatim Mohamed, a senior media study student, said he doesn’t mind the walk from the academic spine to the CFA, calling it “ritualistic.”

“We don’t think about it actively, but walking down that path behind CFA is bit of a meditative wind-down,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed said he believes the CFA’s location is beneficial for the departments it houses.

Hayes McAlonie said UB plans to “enhance” the sidewalk along Clemens Hall and Slee Hall by revamping the courtyard and adding outdoor seating. Campus Planning is also looking to add public art to the spine. Hayes McAlonie said there are “no intentions” of adding an interior walkway to the CFA, but the initiatives are meant to “expand the feeling of the spine.” 

Michaela Bradley, a junior dance major, spends most of her time in the CFA and says she feels “disconnected” from the rest of the university. 

“Buffalo winters can be brutally cold and blustery [and] with the recent time change, it gets darker outside even earlier than before,” Bradley said. “A connecting tunnel would help keep the dance, theatre and other artistic majors warmer and safer while sending the message to our department of connectivity to the rest of the North Campus.”

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