By MICHAEL ANDREI republished from UBNow
Published May 24, 2018
UB’s South Campus Revitalization Plan is finally getting into gear. Changes coming to the university’s historic Main Street campus, which include renovations and demolitions, were revealed during a public forum on Wednesday in Wende Hall on the South Campus.
“The South Campus as it exists today can be understood as a product of two eras of development,” said Kelly Hayes McAlonie, director of UB’s Campus Planning office. “The first began in 1930 when the university commissioned E.B. Green to establish a new master plan, which guided the growth of the campus for the next 20 years.
“By 1960, however, the campus succumbed to the pressures of rapid growth during the post-war era,” Hayes McAlonie said.
“The siting of Diefendorf Hall conformed to the E.B. Green plan, but the construction of Farber, Cary and Sherman halls broke with the plan, as did the construction of a number of other buildings, including Schoellkopf and Pritchard halls.”
Hayes McAlonie then said Schoellkopf, Pritchard and McDonald halls, all dormitories built in the 1950s, are slated to be demolished this year.
“As an architect, I am about designing and planning,” she told the group. “That includes both construction and demolition.”
Hayes McAlonie said additional demolitions scheduled for the South Campus include temporary prefabricated buildings constructed during an era of rapid growth and still standing today after 40 years, and Sherman Hall, built during the 1950s.
The project list for renovation and revitalization also starts this year, beginning with Abbott and Diefendorf halls as part of the Heart-of-the-Campus initiative.
“We will be starting on Phase One of those projects this year,” Hayes McAlonie said. “Students have expressed a desire for a more inclusive, collegiate campus experience. There is also a big need for additional food and dining options on the South Campus.”
Abbott Hall, along with Harriman Hall and Harriman Quad, will be transformed to become the new Heart of the Campus, she said. Student life and services centered in these locations will provide a common place for social gathering and administrative uses.
“We want to create a vibrant Heart of the Campus,” Hayes McAlonie said. “Emphasis will be placed on establishing important amenities to enrich campus life. That is one of the things students are really asking for.”
A new main entrance to the South Campus also is planned for traffic coming in from Bailey Avenue.
“This will create an axis centered on Abbott Hall as the focal point,” Hayes McAlonie said. “We want to reimagine a Bailey Avenue entrance to be as grand as our Main Street entrance.”
The ongoing renovation of Allen Hall will provide multiple benefits to the South Campus and Buffalo communities.
“Major changes are taking place in Allen Hall,” said Hayes McAlonie. “These will provide access for individuals with disabilities, and will comply with requirements and specifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“In addition, Allen Hall will house space for Buffalo Prep programs,” she said. “Buffalo Prep students on the South Campus are now located in a temporary building, and these changes will allow them to move into Allen Hall.”
Outlining longer-term goals of the South Campus Revitalization Plan, Hayes McAlonie described a broad series of changes, also scheduled to begin this year.
“The goal is to establish a new center of interdisciplinary professional education comprising the schools of Law, Education, Social Work, Architecture and Planning, and some programs from the School of Management,” she said.
“These will migrate from North Campus, with the exception of Architecture and Planning, which already resides on South Campus.”
McAlonie told the group that with the move of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to UB’s Downtown Campus now complete, the school’s remaining South Campus buildings will be repurposed into a Health Sciences Complex.
“Restoring these buildings will provide space to create true interdisciplinary programs between the Jacobs School, the School of Public Health and Health Professions, and the School of Dental Medicine,” she said. “This process will be done in two phases.”
Engaging more fully with the community surrounding the South Campus and providing increased opportunities for education, culture and recreation on campus are also an important focus of the revitalization plan.
“UB has had a symbiotic relationship with the neighborhoods surrounding this campus for the better part of a century,” said Hayes McAlonie.
“Housing, retail services and entertainment venues in the neighborhood are vital to the health of South Campus. Opportunities for education, culture and recreation on campus are important for the neighborhoods,” she said.
Hayes McAlonie said community-oriented spaces offered on the South Campus will include Allen Hall, expanded outdoor and indoor recreational spaces, UB libraries and cafes, as well as additional dining venues.
“Community-oriented academic programs will be offered from various departments,” she said, “but particularly from the professional schools that will make South Campus their home.”
Tess Morrissey, UB director of community relations, noted that in order to fully engage the community, “South Campus will maintain its openness and accessibility, without fences or gates, with clear entrances and parking options and pedestrian pathways.
“This plan is also about how to draw people into the campus,” she said. “We want to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to the public. The neighborhoods surrounding the South Campus are very important to us and we are drafting this revitalization plan with that in mind.”
One new area soon to be open to the public, Morrissey and Hayes McAlonie said, is a new Memorial Garden for the South Campus.
“The Memorial Garden is to commemorate the discovery of what turned out to be nearly 3,000 individuals who were buried on these grounds during the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” Morrissey told the group. “Historians believe these were the result of burials of residents of the Erie County Poor House, which operated on the site of the South Campus from 1851-1913.”
Morrissey said the Memorial Garden is now under construction and is scheduled to open in mid-July.
“It is planned as an open place to gather, walk, or just reflect, both for families of those who were interred during those years, as well as members of the community.”
Hayes McAlonie also highlighted major landscaping changes that are coming to better connect the South Campus with its historical context.
“The South Campus needs to support the learning landscape by providing a year-round, beautiful environment, organized around a clear pedestrian-oriented network of walkways and roads,” she said.
“The plan reorganizes the campus roadway system, and upgrades and coordinates walkways and sites to re-establish the identity for the South Campus.”
Tonga Pham, associate vice president for university facilities, said UB is working with Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa to design and create a connecting network of pathways and byways to better connect South Campus with the surrounding communities.
“This is in the planning stages and is being talked about now,” Pham said. “In addition, new roadways and pathways, with pedestrians and cyclists in mind, will also be constructed.”
Sustainable Development Goals:
11. Sustainable cities & communities: Developing safe, resilient and sustainable places to live
17. Partnerships for the goals: Revitalizing global partnerships for a sustainable future and strengthen the implementation of these goals