Campus News

Construction to begin on Heart of the Campus


Published December 4, 2014

“Student learning needs have changed significantly since Capen Hall first opened 40 years ago and HOTC looks to meet new needs for the decades ahead. ”
Dennis Black, vice president
University Life and Services

The Heart of the Campus, the UB 2020 initiative to enhance the student learning experience by creating a “learning landscape” in the center of the academic spine, is set to begin this month with the start of renovation work in Capen Hall.

A priority identified in UB’s campus master plan for its three campuses, the project aims to create a “heart of the campus” in which classrooms, study spaces, computer labs, library facilities and dining services provide “a continuous environment” that supports the learning process. The idea is to make a new “learning landscape” where students can learn everywhere on campus — not just in lecture halls and labs.

Key components of the Heart of the Campus (HOTC) project include extensive renovations of Capen Hall library space and creation of a “one-stop shop” for student services on the ground floor of the building.

A goal of HOTC is to build community and a sense of place in the “heart” of the North Campus; it will enhance the undergraduate experience by facilitating access to student support services and offering new opportunities for collaboration among students, faculty and staff outside the traditional classroom.

When completed, the project also will create a memorable “front door” to the North Campus and provide a positive first impression to visitors. The revitalized facilities will support student success, as well as help recruit the top students, faculty and administrators to the university.

“It is exciting to see the beginnings of HOTC become reality,” says A. Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic affairs and a member of the HOTC Steering Committee. “This is a goal that many have worked toward for many years and first phase of construction is a testimony to their dedication and vision.

“Providing high-quality, student-centered study space promotes better student academic achievement, and the renovations planned for the library fully support this goal,” Weber says. “And the one-stop shop has long been a goal of UB and will provide better and more holistic services to our students.”

Dennis Black, vice president for university life and services, notes that “modern students deserve modern facilities.”

“Student learning needs have changed significantly since Capen Hall first opened 40 years ago and HOTC looks to meet new needs for the decades ahead,” he says.

“HOTC moves UB into the future: a new lobby environment, increased student gathering and service spaces, and a modern learning setting. All of these improvements will impact the student experience in a positive and lasting manner.”

Austin Booth, vice provost for university libraries, points out that the 21st-century library serves as a social learning space, as well as a space for individual study and reflection.

“We are very excited to be able to provide what our students have been asking for: library learning spaces that are designed for comfort and collaboration, for quiet contemplation, for safety, support and service,” Booth says. “The libraries are very much looking forward to the integration of academic support services represented by the Heart of the Campus initiative.”

Work, which will begin after classes end for the semester, will focus on the library. It will include:

  • Renovation of the existing third-floor Silverman Library space to create “an exemplary, 21st-century library experience.” The space will feature individual and collaborative learning and study areas, a cybrary with access to computers and multimedia technology, and social meeting spaces. A Grand Reading Room enclosed in glass will be created, the current Map Room will be relocated, new furniture and fixtures will be installed and the space will be painted.
  • Consolidation of services offered by the Office of Accessibility Resources on the ground floor of Capen. The space will include new offices and testing rooms, and the area will receive new carpeting, paint and lighting.
  • A facelift for the common space adjacent to the undergraduate Admissions Office on the ground floor that will dramatically enhance the experience of visitors to UB. The area will receive new flooring, signage, paint and technology. This area, near the Admissions Office, often is the first space seen by prospective students and other visitors to campus.

The cost of this work, which also includes renewal of building infrastructure and services, and abatement in the spaces that are renovated, is $7.9 million. The third floor of Capen is expected to reopen in late fall 2015; the remainder of the work is expected to be completed in fall 2016.

HTOC also includes plans to create a “one-stop student experience” on the ground floor of Capen. Current library services and other offices, including International Admissions, would be relocated and the space renovated to create the “one-stop shop” for student services.

The aim is to consolidate those services students most frequently use — but now are scattered all across the campus — into one central space to ensure easy access. Offices housed in this area would include the Student Response Center, Student Accounts, Registrar, Campus Living, Campus Dining & Shops, Parking and Transportation, Student Life, Conferences and Events, Student Wellness and New Student Programs.

Members of the campus community can find updates on the Heart of the Campus website.


Excited to see the Heart of the Campus taking shape!


Tyler Bauer