EE&K Begins Facilites Master Plan for SUNY New Paltz

by Jonathan Netter

EE&K Architects has just begun work on a Facilities Master Plan (FMP) for the State University of New York at New Paltz. Building on our recently completed Site and Landscape Master Plan, which focused on improving the exterior spaces of the campus, this plan will assess the current condition and establish the future needs necessary for the campus’ facilities to support the College’s mission and goals.

Located halfway between Albany and New York City, the Campus comprises 63 buildings, including 15 residence halls. It was named the “Hottest Small State School” in the nation by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek “How to Get into College” Guide. SUNY New Paltz aspires to offer the finest and most intellectually engaging undergraduate education in SUNY and to compete successfully for strong students with excellent public and private colleges and universities across the Northeast. The most prominent characteristics of the college are its strong and growing academic quality; its deep connections to the culture and economy of the mid-Hudson region; the comprehensiveness of its academic programs; and its diverse student population.

Our prior work in developing a Site and Landscape Master Plan for the College, which we completed in 2008, was focused on reinforcing the connection of the campus to its picturesque natural setting, clarifying the campus’ boundaries and relationship to both its urban and rural edges, restoring and reconnecting the existing open spaces on campus, developing the campus’ landscape to its full potential, and enhancing the sustainable attributes of the campus landscape. Among the Design Principles, developed closely with a broad-based Steering Committee, are to provide a notable and distinct “first impression”; create a gracious arrival experience; strengthen and beatify pedestrian circulation routes; enhance opportunities for long distance views; increase opportunities for informal interaction through the creation of small scale places; and minimize views to parking while enhancing parking efficiency, access, and location. New building sites where also identified.

The Facilities Master Plan project is part of a system wide effort being led by the State University Construction Fund (SUCF) to develop Master Plans for 32 SUNY campuses.
The FMP will provide criteria and guidelines for campus improvements and facilities development that supports the college’s academic mission and strategic vision. Projecting out over the next 10 years, the FMP will identify opportunities to enhance, maintain or improve the campus environment in ways that facilitate learning and student development.

The FMP project is similar in scope to projects that EE&K has recently completed for NYU’s Steinhardt School and for St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. SUNY New Paltz shares similarities with the Steinhardt School in both their foundation in teacher training and their strong focus on art and culture. The scope of the project calls for 5 tasks, which we’ve organized into phases, following our three-step process.

The First Phase includes three tasks that will occur simultaneously. These are the Campus Profile, Assessment of Conditions, and Analysis of Space Needs. The Campus Profile will provide a general overview of the campus and establish its mission and strategic vision through review of background materials and interviews with senior administrative staff. Campus surveys by our diverse team of consultants will establish the current conditions and opportunities and constraints of the campus and its facilities during the Assessment of Conditions task. Through interviews with deans and department heads, benchmarking, and detailed statistical research, the project team will summarize the current and future programmatic needs of the Campus and calculate the corresponding space requirements in completing the Analysis of Space Needs.

In the Alternatives phase, the findings of the tasks completed in the prior phase will be integrated to generate alternative strategies for facilities development and improvement over the next 10 years.

In the Final Recommendation phase, the preferred strategy will be developed, building on the Site and Landscape Master Plan, to create a comprehensive functional and aesthetic vision of the campus – inside and out – where improved facilities and open spaces support the programmatic goals and overall mission of the campus.

Leading the project team are Sean O’Donnell and Matt Bell. Project team members include Susan Shoemaker, Jonathan Nettler, Jae Ahn, and Seth Garland.