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Students excited to return to renovated Hayes Hall

Students collaborate on a project in the fourth-floor attic space, which has been reclaimed as a lecture hall and event space. Photo: Douglas Levere

By DAVID J. HILL

Published September 23, 2016

“Being in this innovative, inspiring space is going to serve as a catalyst for students to graduate as the best designers and planners they can be.”
Daniel Crowther, master's student
School of Architecture and Planning

Daniel Crowther is in his last semester of the three-semester master of architecture program with a concentration in real estate development. He swears he didn’t plan it this way so that he could experience the newly renovated Hayes Hall, home of the School of Architecture and Planning, which reopened this academic year.

“But I’m glad it worked out the way it did. One semester in Hayes is better than none at all,” Crowther said this week in the student lounge on the second floor, one of his favorite spaces in the renovated building.

“I have a strong feeling that a School of Architecture and Planning should be located in a well-designed building. It should be inspirational to students, and this is. Good design is contagious. Being in this innovative, inspiring space is going to serve as a catalyst for students to graduate as the best designers and planners they can be,” he said.

UB celebrates the completion of the $44 million renovation of Hayes Hall — the university’s only building listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks — with a series of events this weekend. The building dedication ceremony starts at 10 a.m. today on the Hayes lawn. Speakers will include Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, student Micaela Barker, and Valerie Christianson of Bergmann Associates, the project’s lead architect.

Visit the school’s website for the full list of events scheduled for today and tomorrow.

While the building dedication will be the first time many members of the UB community get to see how Hayes was transformed inside and out, some students and faculty have been using the space since the end of the spring 2016 semester. (The building was fully activated at the start of this semester.)

Students have been raving about the technology upgrades in the building, especially the interactive smartboards. “The industry is moving toward a heavy reliance on technology and the audio/visual capabilities here are excellent. We have access to cutting-edge technology and the emerging industry standards,” said Crowther, who helped work on the National Register application.

The building upgrades also have caught the attention of UB alumni, many of whom praised the renovations by commenting on a Facebook live tour that Shibley and Christianson led on Tuesday. “I was a freshman in 2010. We had our orientation here for (architecture) school. (Six) years later it finally reopens and it looks gorgeous! I wish I was still there to appreciate it,” Kyle Vliet, a 2015 school alum, posted.

Two things immediately stood out to Enjoli Hall, a second-year student in the master of urban planning program. One, Hayes is full of natural lighting, a stark contrast to the nearly windowless confines of the Hayes Annex buildings she was used to working in as a member of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab research team.

Secondly, it has unified the school’s departments and research centers under one roof. That, she said, will go a long way toward facilitating collaboration and better awareness of the great work each department and center is doing.

“There was a disconnect before with everybody scattered in different buildings. There are so many good meeting spaces here that it makes it easier to collaborate with our partners,” Hall said, noting that the Food Lab is now just down the hall from one such partner, the Community for Global Health Equity, one of UB’s new Communities of Excellence.

Perhaps most importantly for new students and for community members who come to Hayes, the building conveys a sense of professionalism, according to Hall. “We did focus groups with members of the community in here last spring and they were just in awe of the space. It helped establish credibility,” she said. “For the new students, it communicates the fact that this is a professional learning environment.”

To be sure, Brittany Gray, a master of architecture student, has noticed a new energy among students in Hayes Hall.

“You can already see the enthusiasm from the students, especially the graduate students in the studios,” she said. “They are just pumping out the work.”