New Residence Hall to Embody 'Learning Landscapes' Concept Central to UB's Master Physical Plan

Release Date: November 17, 2009 This content is archived.


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The South Ellicott Suites will feature "learning landscapes" and are expected to become the model for future housing at UB.

BUFFALO, N.Y -- A new residence hall that embodies the principles of the University at Buffalo's comprehensive physical plan, "Building UB," is being constructed on the university's North Campus.

The 600-unit South Ellicott Suites for sophomores will feature a "learning landscapes" concept, designed to enhance student learning by blending residential, academic and recreational areas. The new facility is part of the plan to make the North Campus more dynamic, lively and attractive. It will become the model for future campus housing at UB, according to Joseph J. Krakowiak, director of University Residence Halls and Apartments.

"The entire first floor of the building will demonstrate the vibrancy of 24-hour-a-day academic activity, a key principle in the learning landscapes concept," Krakowiak said. "The first floor has a wide variety of settings for classroom spaces for study groups and for individual study, and features 2,000-square-foot Market Café with seating for 50 people.

"Casual study will be enhanced through the use of technology, lighting and flexible spaces."

Construction of the 198,500-square-foot residence is underway and is expected to be ready for occupancy for the fall 2011 semester. The $57 million project is being funded by a partnership between the UB Foundation and the UB Alumni Association, and will utilize fees from residents of the building for construction and operation costs.

The South Ellicott Suites is one of several projects that illustrate how the Building UB plan, unveiled last month, is already well into the process of implementation. The plan is of historic size and scope -- a $5 billion investment to create 7 million square feet of space on UB's three campuses -- North, South and Downtown -- to be constructed over a minimum of 20 years. The comprehensive physical plan -- UB's first since the 1970s -- will guide the growth of the university as it implements the UB 2020 strategic plan to become a model 21st century university. To learn more about the plan and other projects under way, go to

The new residence hall is significant to the North Campus for two key reasons, explained Robert G. Shibley, senior adviser to the president for campus planning and design.

"The project will include features that qualify it for a Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard and will serve as a demonstration for what UB wants to do when constructing future buildings," he said. Part of this certification includes UB's first sustainable landscape design, an environmentally friendly approach that uses plants and species natural to the area, manages more storm water on site, and stays attractive all four seasons. "Second, it's the first step toward building a mix of housing and retail along Lee Road on the North Campus to create a 'Main Street' linking student residences to the student union and the academic spine of the campus."

As part of the project, Lee Road will be extended to the Ellicott Complex across Audubon Parkway on campus, where a traffic circle will be installed to slow the vehicles and make Lee Road more walkable for students, faculty and staff.

This building will be the first residence hall in the United States to be developed under Universal Design principles. The approach goes well beyond legal requirements for accessibility and addresses design in a manner that is well-suited for all people.

"This campus values residential living," says Krakowiak. "Students who live on campus do better academically than those who do not, and they persist to graduation at a higher percentage than those who live off-campus."

Inherent in the new project is this idea of "suite style" living, which includes two double bedrooms, bathroom, storage, and a dressing area that offers more open space and privacy then current traditional residence hall, Krakowiak says. The building design comes from recommendations given by two housing master planning consultants' studies of UB housing needs and student preferences.

"Both reports commented on the lack of 'suite style' living on the North Campus," says Krakowiak. "Suite style housing appeals to sophomores. Consequently, it was chosen and located on the North Campus.

"First-floor spaces have extended flexibility and capability to offer different educational settings as required, Krakowiak says. "Space is available for faculty offices, seminar rooms and impromptu study."

UB is building the new residence hall at a time New York State is requiring all SUNY residential facilities to have "addressable" fire alarm systems by June 2010, which means they will be equipped with more sophisticated technology to more quickly identify any problems inside.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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