By Kathleen Haley
When students arrived on campus this fall, they saw the future landscape of Syracuse University had started to take shape. Alexis Alex ’19 appreciates the energy and sense of community created by one of the more visible projects, the vehicle-free promenade that now stretches from Newhouse to Bird Library. “I think it’s very nice. It’s just like a nice walkway for people to see the buildings and meet up,” Alex says. “It’s a good meeting pathway.” The promenade was just one of many projects that were undertaken. These included technology and classroom upgrades in academic spaces and accessibility updates. Proposed plans were also unveiled for substantial building and renovation over the next several years that will change the face of the University. The transformation was put into motion by the draft Campus Framework, informed by thousands of pieces of input by members of the campus community over nearly two years—and the work continues. “The Campus Framework is a living, evolving plan that will guide the University administration as it transforms the campus to meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff, including, especially, facilities required to fulfill the ambitions of the Academic Strategic Plan,” says School of Architecture Dean Michael Speaks, a member of the Campus Framework Advisory Group. “This will mean addressing the specific needs of schools, colleges, and centers, but it will also entail the development of facilities and public places that serve the larger University community.”
Designed as a 20-year roadmap, the draft Campus Framework is intrinsically intertwined with the Academic Strategic Plan, which outlines the University’s vision and identifies University-wide goals to meet that vision. It was also developed with input from across the campus community. The Academic Strategic Plan, the Campus Framework, and Operational Excellence, which looked at more effective business processes and efficiencies, were components of the three-pronged Fast Forward Syracuse initiative, announced by Chancellor Kent Syverud in June 2014 to ensure the success of the University in the challenging higher education environment.
The work to revitalize the campus is guided by the Campus Framework Advisory Group, composed of students, faculty, staff, and trustees and chaired by Trustee Steven L. Einhorn ’64, G’67, in partnership with design firm Sasaki Associates. Since fall 2014, students, faculty, staff, and alumni have shared their voices in what the future SU should look and feel like at meetings, informational sessions, and open house events, and through the My-Campus Survey, which garnered more than 3,000 responses from members of the campus community about how they use campus. “The Campus Framework is designed to align the University’s academic vision and mission with its buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure. This investment will ultimately enhance the Syracuse experience for all students. This campus is a vital center of 21st-century scholarly learning and research and its physical environment must continue to reflect that,” Chancellor Kent Syverud says. “The work of the Campus Framework Advisory Group and the input from the campus community, with the support of the Board of Trustees, have focused the priorities and opportunities that will grow and transform the campus for decades to come.”
While building on the historic footprint of the campus, the Campus Framework’s vision is to reinvigorate the physical campus through a more dynamic core that brings together all that makes for a comprehensive student experience—from academics and research to student life and athletics. It addresses five key recommendations: enliven the civic realm; revitalize the academic core; create a campus city community; integrate diverse, inclusive student life activities; and establish mixed-use neighborhoods. With those themes in place, the plans revolve around three major east-west promenades to structure the development and movement through campus—the Waverly Avenue Promenade, a streetscape improvement plan; the former University Place Promenade, now known as the “Einhorn Family Walk” as a result of a $1 million naming gift from Steven and Sherry Einhorn ’65; and the Academic Promenade, which will be situated on the south side of the Shaw Quadrangle.
The Einhorn Family Walk was one of more than 120 construction and renovation projects that took place during the summer as a result of the draft Campus Framework, which was released last spring and details short- and long-term priorities. With most students away from campus, the Office of Campus Planning, Design, and Construction began work at academic buildings, residence halls, and outside spaces and infrastructure. Future projects include the National Veterans Resource Complex; a renovated Schine Student Center; a revitalized Bird Library; new student housing on Main Campus; and the West Campus development, including the construction of the “Arch,” a renovated Archbold Gymnasium into a state-of-the-art health and wellness complex, and renovation of the Carrier Dome.
“Our objective as a community is to create a more connected, more robust center of learning and research that will best prepare our students for the world—now and in the future,” says Steven Einhorn, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. “The Campus Framework allows us to imagine, develop, and construct how to get there.”
Deeply committed to hearing community feedback, the advisory group continued with sessions into the fall and plans to provide a revised draft Campus Framework in January. “The draft Campus Framework is driven by the ideas, concerns, and suggestions that come from the campus community,” says Peter Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer. “We need that input to help steer the progress and ultimately transform this campus.”
The classrooms of today need to be interactive, flexible, and ready for collaboration—the latest in audiovisual equipment, teaching aids, and high-speed networks all enhance learning and research and the in-class experience. As part of the Campus Framework, the University invested more than $9 million this summer on a slate of renovations to academic spaces on campus to make that happen.
The Division of Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Office of Campus Planning, Design, and Construction (CPDC) updated technology and academic spaces in more than a dozen buildings, including Carnegie Library, the Center for Science and Technology, Hall of Languages, the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, the Physics Building, the Shaffer Art Building, and Crouse Hinds, Eggers, Flint, Haven, Link, Lyman, MacNaughton, Slocum, and White halls.
“Providing a high-caliber environment that fosters learning, teaching, and innovation is not only consistent with our Academic Strategic Plan, it’s also critical to attracting and retaining high-achieving students and world-class faculty scholars,” says Michele G. Wheatly, vice chancellor and provost. “The work done by ITS and CPDC enhances the student experience, elevates classroom learning and teaching, and generates new opportunity for student and faculty researchers.”
The work included Americans with Disabilities Act improvements; audio and visual system upgrades; the installation of new smart teaching stations; complete technology overhauls; classroom and auditorium renovations; furniture replacements; and the creation of new seminar rooms, meeting rooms, and classrooms. The updates provide new ways to engage with students and more ways for students to interact and participate in classroom learning. Many of the projects also enhance research excellence, such as renovation of space in the Heroy Geology Building to house the new National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship Program that focuses on the interface of water and energy cycles.
The University increased its efforts to create greater accommodations for learning and a connected experience for every member of the campus with more than $4.1 million in accessibility updates this summer. The accessibility projects are improving how people get around campus, as well as upgrading existing facilities that pre-date the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The updates have focused on improving accessible entrances, auditorium seating accommodations, and restroom facilities. “The improvements reflect the University’s ongoing commitment to foster an inclusive environment,” says Aaron Hodukavich, director and ADA coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services. “These are positive steps to ensure that everyone feels like they are part of our community.”
Projects across campus have included such work as a heated ramp to the Syracuse University gateway sign just north of the Place of Remembrance; the Einhorn Family Walk, which provides a gentler slope and better access to buildings along part of University Place; a new elevator to serve Gifford Auditorium in Huntington Beard Crouse Hall, where there had only been an exterior ADA entrance to the auditorium; the creation of single-occupant accessible restrooms in various residence halls and campus buildings; and the addition of accessible teaching stations. “Having improvements to access is not only essential but vital to everyone’s experience of a welcoming campus that expects and emphasizes the value and ethics of belonging,” says Diane R. Wiener, director of the Disability Cultural Center.
Removing physical access barriers is among the initiatives the University is deploying as a result of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion’s short-term recommendations. As part of the commitment, the University brought on ADA consultant Danny Heumann ’91 to work with Campus Planning, Design, and Construction. “What’s wonderful about being here is that Syracuse has given me so much in my life in terms of making me the person that I am today,” says Heumann, who discovered the challenges of navigating the campus in a wheelchair as a freshman. “I wanted to take my talents and motivation and inspiration and bring it back to my alma mater—especially when my alma mater wants to do everything in its power to be the most accessible, inclusive university in the country.”
Syracuse University has a long legacy of supporting America’s service members, veterans, and their families. The tradition will continue with the creation of the National Veterans Resource Complex (NVRC), a first-of-its-kind national center of excellence for research, education, and opportunity to advance the post-service lives of veterans and their families. The NVRC will be at the forefront of academic, government, private sector, and community collaboration that will inform national policy and program delivery.
“The design and construction of the NVRC is perhaps the most symbolic example of Syracuse University’s commitment to serving, supporting, and empowering those men and women who have served the nation in uniform,” says J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor of strategic initiatives and innovation and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. “The NVRC will build upon and solidify the University’s ongoing leadership in research and programming connected to the veteran and military sectors.”
The NVRC aligns with one of the key tenets of the Academic Strategic Plan—to distinguish Syracuse as the premier university for veterans, military-connected students, and their families. Its ideals are based on the tenure of former Chancellor William P. Tolley, who opened the doors to veterans after World War II and the creation of the GI Bill, tripling the University’s enrollment. Today, with its Institute for Veterans and Military Families and distinctive veteran-related programs, the University is poised to coalesce its many resources and academic programs into the new complex.
After a six-month design competition that concluded earlier this year, the University’s NVRC Selection Committee chose SHoP Architects, a New York City firm, to design the new complex, which will include a large auditorium, and research, academic, and office spaces. The complex will be built on Waverly Avenue, with groundbreaking scheduled for summer 2017 and a tentative completion date of spring 2019.
When the University solicited feedback from the campus about the future of the physical campus, students were deeply interested in strengthening the academic and research spaces. But they also wanted a richer overall student experience outside the classroom, including comprehensive support systems and more robust health and wellness offerings. The draft Campus Framework proposes a plan for the “Arch,” a student-focused health and wellness complex. The complex, which will be developed through substantial renovations to Archbold Gymnasium, will include the services of the Counseling Center, Student Assistance, Health Promotion, Health Services, and Recreation Services.
“I am happy to see our students will have access to a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility, a resource our students say is especially important to them,” says Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “Having all of our health and wellness units together and centrally located on campus will provide for a seamless continuum of care and furthers our efforts in serving students’ holistic well-being.”
The development of the Arch will enable student health and wellness services to better coordinate their engagement with students in one central hub. The University brought on global design firm Populous for design of the plans and to work in coordination with offices in student affairs.
It’s an unmistakable, defining new space that has rejuvenated a prominent area of campus for students. Completed over the summer, the Einhorn Family Walk, which was supported by a gift from Steven ’64, G’67, and Sherry Einhorn ’65, is a pedestrian-friendly promenade that replaced part of University Place and eliminated a traffic area in a busy section of campus. The gently sloping walkway—featuring inviting sitting and conversation terraces, increased landscaping, and greater ADA accessibility—allows for more connectedness and has created a new spot to meet up. “As alumni of this great University, Sherry and I take great pride in knowing this gift will benefit Syracuse University students, faculty, and staff for generations to come,” Steven Einhorn says.
Stretching from the Newhouse complex to Bird Library, the walk was developed to support the goals of the Academic Strategic Plan to enhance the student experience and build a sense of “One University.” The project includes a heated pathway that leads to the plaza with the Syracuse University gateway sign, just north of the Place of Remembrance, making it accessible to those with mobility issues.
Since its completion, the Einhorn Family Walk has already transformed that area of campus, says School of Architecture Dean Michael Speaks, a member of the Campus Framework Advisory Group. “The Einhorn Family Walk has literally stitched together, activated, and extended the campus,” Speaks says. “The walkway is a wonderful piece of public event and circulation architecture. But it is also important because it activates and transforms the spaces and buildings that surround it into distinct places with their own character and uses.”
A place of academic celebrations and sport triumphs, the Carrier Dome has a storied 36-year history. The stadium is a focal point of student life and the University wants it to remain so for many years to come. As part of the proposed West Campus Project, the Carrier Dome will undergo extensive renovations, including a new roof, and become more integrated into academic spaces through the creation of the Academic Promenade.
Although plans are still conceptual, options for the Dome include a new fixed roof. Comprehensive accessibility and mobility upgrades in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be implemented to ensure an inclusive experience, along with other interior and exterior upgrades. The entire project seeks to heighten the overall student and fan experience.