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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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UB begins $28 million overhaul of Crosby Hall

University officials expect the project to be complete by the fall of 2023

A $28 million renovation of Crosby Hall commenced on Sept. 22 and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2023.
A $28 million renovation of Crosby Hall commenced on Sept. 22 and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2023.

A $28 million renovation of Crosby Hall commenced on Sept. 22, according to a UBNow story. The project will restore the historical architecture of the building while improving student learning facilities and advancing UB’s sustainability initiatives, the university says. It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2023. 

Crosby Hall presently houses the School of Architecture and Planning. Architecture students displaced by the renovations have been temporarily moved to designated “surge” spaces in Acheson Annex, Hayes Annexes B and C and Parker Hall, according to the architecture school’s website. Andrew Berman, the principal architect of the project, will be overseeing the restoration of the exterior’s 1931 Neo-Georgian architecture. But restoration will not be the entire focus of the project, the university says. Berman is also tasked with reimagining the interior with a more open design, intuitive navigation and economical usage of space.

According to new layouts produced by Berman and his team, the ground floor will feature exhibits, galleries, and student lounges. There will also be two classrooms that can seat over 50 students, as well as a computer lab and faculty office spaces.

The second and third floors will feature the revamped student studios, with space for about 120 studio positions each. Increases in the number of workspaces are attributed to the replacement of traditional drafting boards — typically five to six feet wide — with smaller desks just large enough to support a computer. In this scheme, each student is allotted 80 sq. ft. of studio space to work with.

Korydon Smith, professor and chair of the architecture department, and head of the renoation’s faculty design committee, says the new interior layout will transform the student experience in Crosby Hall.

“It will be much more social on the ground floor, and the upper floors will offer greater flexibility — accommodating everything from individual design work, to digital collaboration, to team-based learning and full-scale construction,” Smith said.

Students will also have more access to digital technology, according to Associate Dean Bruce Majkowski. The new classrooms, studios, labs and lounges will all receive more power with an enhanced electrical service, while expanded wireless coverage will allow all students to use the Wi-Fi throughout the building and outdoors.

Crosby Hall is also set to be comprehensively refitted with “state-of-the-art energy efficient equipment.” Targeting a 50% reduction in energy consumption and a 25% carbon reduction, the building is on course to receive the LEED Gold certification and fulfill the SUNY chancellor’s directive to work toward net zero carbon in all system buildings. The project’s system upgrades on energy usage and carbon emissions also follow UB’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a goal for zero emissions by 2030 and 100% clean energy for electricity by 2025. 

Following its construction in 1931 by architects E.G. Green and Sons, the 90-year-old South Campus building has undergone just one major transformation when its original occupants, the School of Management, made way for the School of Architecture in 1985.

The School of Architecture and Planning has since eyed renovations for both its main facilities, Crosby Hall and Hayes Hall. Renovations for the latter were completed in 2016, and the school’s administrators are enthusiastic about finishing off the other half of the project.

“We have been talking about this for over 30 years,” Majkowski said. “We can now say it’s finally happening. And it’s going to be great.”

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