NEW PALTZ – More than 100 students, faculty, staff and community members convened on the concourse outside the newly-renovated Wooster Hall for a ribbon-cutting celebrating the building’s opening and its new place as a central hub of activity and service on the SUNY New Paltz campus.
“Many people and companies dedicated hard and excellent work to the Wooster Hall renovation, and this ribbon-cutting ceremony is a celebration of a great collective achievement,” said President Donald P. Christian. “We have completely renovated Wooster from a 1960s era building of Brutalist architecture, to a spacious, modern layout with centralized student services and enhanced spaces for academic programs in the liberal arts and engineering disciplines. To all involved, thank you for your great work and this positive addition to our campus.”
The ceremony capped a process that began in 2008, when planning got underway with major support from State Senator John Bonacic and State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill. Bonacic attended and spoke at the opening.
“I want to congratulate President Don Christian for his vision in moving SUNY New Paltz forward with these kinds of capital projects,” Senator Bonacic said. “The real reason we’re all here today is the excellence in education this university provides, the result of a collective effort between Don, the staff, the teachers, and many others. It’s why when I come here I always say that New Paltz is the gem of the SUNY system.”
Following the ribbon-cutting the architects and contractors offered visitors a tour of the building and its many new features: the transformed exterior design; the state-of-the-art HVAC and energy recovery systems; the “Spanish steps” walkway alongside the building; the modern teaching and learning areas and labs inside; the various measures that helped ensure an expected Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council; and of course, Element 93, the new café named for Neptunium, the 93rd element on the periodic table, whose symbol is “Np.”
The design and execution of many of these features drew on the expertise of major contractors from Croxton Collaborative Architects of New York, N.Y., APS Contracting of Paterson, N.J., Jacobs and the State University Construction Fund, among others, who supported the renovation of Wooster from conception to completion. Overall the project employed more than 40 subcontractors and generated 225 jobs, a testament to the College’s impact on the regional economy.
“Wooster Hall 2016 is neither a demolition nor a preservation – it represents the incorporation of a half-century of knowledge and values since its first dedication in 1967, and strikes a new relationship between the campus of SUNY New Paltz and those who occupy its halls,” said Randy Croxton, president of Croxton Collaborative Architects, the lead architectural firm for the project.
Wooster Hall has been open and operational since the start of the fall 2016 semester, home to a suite of student-service offices such as Records & Registration, Student Accounts and Academic Advising, as well as the academic Departments of Psychology and Anthropology.
Psychology Teaching Assistant and graduate student Vania Rolon ’16g spoke to the impact the new building is already having on the campus learning environment.
“As someone who aspires to become a researcher one day, I’ve come to realize that strong ideas do not always come from myself alone, but from the feedback and support of those in my cohort,” Rolon said. “The fact that we have the entire psychology faculty, their research labs, the graduate student lounge and the TA office all under the same roof, makes Wooster feel like this is our home. Being provided with a spacious area where we can let our inner enthusiasts roam free has given me more amiable experiences than I would have had otherwise studying in a more closed off space by myself.”