By JAY REY
Published March 29, 2023
One of the larger, more visible construction projects set to begin on the North Campus this spring will serve as the new “front door” to the Ellicott Complex.
The two-story project, part of the first phase of a housing master plan, expands and redesigns a portion of Fargo Quad to provide a comfortable gathering spot for residential students and a primary gateway into the maze that can be the Ellicott Complex.
Feedback over the years is that Ellicott can be difficult to traverse, so the new, redesigned quad will assist with wayfinding through the complex while the design choice of the façade will serve as sort of a beacon, says Brian Haggerty, interim director of housing operations.
“We are creating a landing spot, living room concept for our students,” Haggerty says. “It will serve as a ‘front door’ for the complex so for incoming students, their families, visitors to the university, they will know where to go.”
The project, located adjacent to the bus tunnel, is a combination of new construction and renovation of Fargo, which will make more use of the Ellicott Terrace.
The first floor will include waiting, welcome and reception areas; four student lounges; a conference room, a courtyard patio; a video wall; a tour room, showcasing a typical room in the residence halls; and a “social stair” that leads to the second floor.
“We’ve added some nice features,” Haggerty says. “There will be a pool table upstairs. There will be a mix of seating — high-top, low-top tables, upholstered pieces, hard pieces. The social stair is a really nice concept for people to just drop down and casually interact with others or just sit by themselves to check their texts, watch Netflix — things like that.”
The second floor includes more lounge space and offices for housing services and residential life.
“So, it serves a variety of purposes, and by co-locating those points of service, then we can better serve students,” Haggerty says.
The project is scheduled to begin after commencement in May and be completed by July 2024.
While Fargo Quad is under construction, roughly 500 beds will need to be taken offline for the 2023-24 academic year.
At the same time, nearly 1,000 beds will be brought back online in the fall at the South Campus, where its two high-rise residence halls remained vacant this academic year while undergoing renovations.
Clement Hall is getting major upgrades to the student dorm rooms and bathrooms, including new paint, tiling and flooring. The lobby is getting a makeover as well.
“It really will look like a nice, fresh building,” Haggerty says.
The bathrooms at Goodyear Hall on the South Campus also will be upgraded this summer, while the remaining work — painting and flooring — will be completed over the next two summers.
What is it with these white-faced buildings (the One World Cafe, and now this new entry) being added to the earlier 1970s-80s standard campus mottled tan brick? White is NOT the equivalent of "fresh," and these buildings will stand out egregiously now and are likely to soil unattractively later. I'm all in favor of intelligent new configurations, but I think that more greenery would do more to freshen, soften and humanize our brutalist, factory-like campus.
Barbara J. Bono
I encourage this project to be reconsidered. I wholeheartedly believe that if the students at UB, specifically those in Ellicott, were polled, they would much rather have renovations to their halls, bathrooms and lounges. Some of these areas have not been updated since the building's construction, and it shows.
This "front door" would not be easily accessible to students in Ellicott East, or any building from the inside, a factor that will seriously impact use in the winter months. I sincerely ask that this project be reconsidered, and the desires of the people who live here be heard.
I also echo concerns about the aesthetic dissonance of this building compared to the rest of Ellicott. It's totally incongruous with the rest of the building, which gains what brutalist charm it can from its uniformity. It looks like a new age, white, brutalist square slapped onto the old brick one.
Brian P. Murphy
Perhaps it is time to demolish the complex and make it an inviting space that is attractive instead of some pseudo-Cold War bunker. The green space out there is misused or not used at all. The newer student housing is so much better. Lets complete the job and give the undergraduates something worth the money.
I agree a lot with the idea that these funds would be better suited toward improving other aspects of the dorms; however I think the core idea of this project is a good one.
As a current resident of Ellicott, I have been very aware of the quality of living currently, and it is spotty. Some areas have been renovated recently with new paint and furniture, while others are a little behind. I think those should receive some funding.
Also, the idea of making a grand entrance for Ellicott makes sense. Although from the sky it looks very orderly, at the human scale it is very confusing where you need to go. Putting this big piece out front, and making it a stand-out color will direct incoming people and point them where they want to go.
I also want to say that tearing down Ellicott is a horrendous idea. It’s not that old, so tearing down a perfectly good complex just to make one that looks nicer would be a stupendous waste of money, and terrible for the environment.