Campus News

UB community will see some physical changes upon return to campus

Students walking in a hallway with wall graphics advertising One World Café, the new food court currently under construction.

It won't be long now. One World Café is on track for completion in 2022. Photos: Douglas Levere


Published August 23, 2021


While most of us were learning or working from home over the past 18 months, construction on campus continued in preparation for the new academic year.

Several classrooms and lecture halls were completely renovated; a new look and name were given to what was formerly known as the cybrary; and an “arena” for esports is slated to open this fall.  

And there’s also been significant progress on UB’s signature project on the North Campus in anticipation of a spring opening.

As the UB community fully returns to campus for the fall, here’s a snapshot of some of the changes you’ll notice.

One World Café: Started in the spring of 2019 to provide a new dining experience on the North Campus, this highly anticipated project is now three-quarters complete.

“The majority of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing are installed. We are putting drywall on the walls and starting to install flooring,” says Jennifer Kuhn, interim assistant director of construction delivery in University Facilities, Design and Construction. “We’re at the point where we’re almost ready to do the ceilings, painting and the majority of floor finishing.”

Located in one of the busiest corridors on the North Campus, One World Café is being built around and under the existing overhangs of Capen and Norton halls to provide more dining options and space to socialize.

Once finished, the three-story, 53,000-square-foot building will include five international food stations that offer an array of meals, snacks and drinks. The open, spacious interior features windows stretching from floor to ceiling throughout, with seating for more than 500 people. With its main entrance facing Founders Plaza, One World Café will serve as a new “front door” to UB.

Like most construction projects during the pandemic, there has been some challenges with the supply chain for materials, but construction is still expected to be completed by the end of December, Kuhn says.

Opening is set for the spring semester.

“It is our goal to avoid interference with campus life as the university returns to a fully in-person experience,” says Rhonda Ransom, project manager in University Facilities, Design and Construction.

Natural Sciences Complex: Home to the departments of Chemistry and Geology, the Natural Sciences Complex on the North Campus is getting its first big makeover since it was built in 1994.

“It’s transformative,” says Ronald Van Splunder, manager of architectural support in University Facilities, Design and Construction. “The very institutional look is being modernized and it’s pretty striking from where it was.”

This project involves a renovation of two lecture halls, including replacement of 393 seats in Room 225 and 262 seats in Room 201.

There’s new flooring, lighting and acoustical treatments; power outlets at each seat so students can plug in a device; and a video wall display measuring 32 feet by 9 feet. A push-to-talk microphone system was added so students can more easily communicate with the instructor.

“Learning landscapes” — a designated space for students to study before or after class — were added outside both lecture halls.

While delays in the supply chain also posed challenges for this project, both lecture halls are expected to be ready for use by the time classes begin, Van Splunder says.

The building’s three other large lecture halls will be renovated during the project’s second phase next summer.

Lockwood Memorial Library:  Formerly known as the cybrary, the campus computing site across from the entrance to Lockwood on the North Campus is getting a new look to go along with its new name: UBIT Level Up.

Scheduled to be completed in the fall, the project will include new computing stations — arranged by Macs and PCs — all enjoying a faster network connection. There will be a central printing area; modern, softer lighting; touchless-entry doors; and, after space was reconfigured, an elevator that exits to the corridor.

A new feature is the reuse of adjoining space for a 50-seat computer lab. It will double as a state-of-the-art “arena” for UB’s esports team, but still serve the wider student body when the team is not competing. The room is outfitted with LED lights that change colors.

Students will be able to view the gaming action from the hallway by peering through the large glass window, or watching the monitors mounted along the wall of the corridor.

There’s also a smaller gaming room for students to drop in and hang out with friends.

“We just wanted to modernize and refresh the space for the student experience,” Van Splunder says.

Farber Hall: Renovations to Farber Hall on the South Campus were actually completed in the spring, but because the campus was largely remote at that time, many faculty, staff and students will be seeing the finished product for the first time this fall, Van Splunder explains.

Farber underwent a complete makeover of its G26 Lecture Hall, which includes a more contemporary style and finish; a state-of-the-art audio-visual system; enhanced WiFi; a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for improved comfort; and an updated electrical system with power outlets at each seat.

 A learning landscape space was added outside the lecture hall to allow students to gather and study.

Classrooms 135, 136 and 137 also underwent a complete renovation, which included enhanced WiFi and a new HVAC system. New flat panels were installed in Room 135; a tiered platform was removed in Room 136; and one of the two doors was removed in Room 137 for a better layout.