University Heights, Buffalo, NY

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Evidence of UB abandoning the Heights

A $57 million project for north campus while south campus waits for crumbs to fall from the table.
Why wasn't this project proposed for University Heights?

600-bed dorm planned at UB North Campus

Work has begun on a 600-bed residence hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus in Amherst.The $57 million project is being built on land between John James Audubon Parkway and the residence halls at the Ellicott Complex. It will feature a more “living learning” design intended to mesh campus residential and academic space.

“The entire first floor of the building will demonstrate the vibrance of 24-hour-a-day academic activity, a principle in the living learning concept,” said Joseph J. Krakowiak, director of university residence halls and apartments. “The first floor has a wide variety of settings for classroom spaces, for study groups, for individual study and a casual cafe.”

Opening is scheduled for August 2011.

The new South Ellicott Suites is significant to the North Campus for a couple of reasons, said Robert G. Shibley, senior adviser for campus planning.

For one, the project will include features that will be the gold standard in environmental design and serve as a demonstration for what UB wants to do when constructing future buildings.

Second, it’s the first step toward building a mix of housing and retail along Lee Road, a campus access road, to create more of a “Main Street” through the campus spine, Shibley said.

As part of the project, Lee Road will be extended to the Ellicott Complex across Audubon Parkway, where a traffic circle will be installed to slow the vehicles.

“It starts the evolution of Lee Road as UB’s new Main Street,” Shibley said.

UB faces more competition in the student housing market, as developers in recent years have built hundreds of private student apartments just across the road from the university.

Still, Shibley and Krakowiak don’t anticipate a problem filling up the new residence hall, which is geared toward sophomores.

Sophomores tend to want a little more space and privacy than the traditional campus housing but may not be quite ready for an apartment, Krakowiak said.

The new residence hall will have a “suite style” design, which includes two double bedrooms, a bathroom, storage and a dressing area.

A 2,000-square-foot Market Cafe on the first floor will have seating for 50 people.

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

The project will be built without state money, Krakowiak said.

State education law allows the university to enter into agreements with the UB Alumni Association and UB Foundation, which would borrow money for the project. Payments collected from students living in the residence hall would go toward the cost of building and operating the facility.

UB — which has nearly 29,000 students — currently has about 1,350 beds on the South Campus on Main Street, about 4,000 beds in residence halls on the North Campus and about 2,200 beds in apartments on the North Campus.

The last time housing went up on campus was in 2002, when Creekside Village — apartments for graduate and professional students — opened on the northwest edge of the North Campus.

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