Location: Cortland, NY
Completed: August 2016
Construction Type: Renovation
Degroat Hall at SUNY Cortland is 146 bed residence hall built in 1951. DeGroat Hall is part of a three building complex on campus, Cheney, its sister building and Brockway which connects the two. All three buildings were designed in the Georgian revival style. Though it had been maintained over the years DeGroat hall was in need of updating to stay competitive in the evolving world of higher education.
The challenges the design team faced included a very tight and regimented floor plan, and low floor-to-floor heights common in buildings of this era. Another design challenge was to provide an interior style that was indicative to the traditional style of the building while creating an updated and fresh feel. The campus also asked the design team to create new lounges on each floor and create more open space within the building.
The core of the building on each floor provided the best opportunity to impact the spatial layout of the building. Inspired by traditional Georgian proportion, balance and symmetry, the first floor lobby utilizes concave walls that organize circulation and ease the user through the space. This design element is reinforced in the floor and ceiling through the use of concentric circular moldings and ceiling medallions, ornaments common in this style. The circular rotunda provides a clear form to help to orient students within the building. The existing monumental stair and its original wrought iron and brass railing became a key feature in the design and was protected and restored during construction.
On the first floor, the lobby was opened up by the elimination of two bedrooms. This provided the opportunity to create a more traditional parlor complete with a fireplace and coffered ceilings. The parlor space is used as an area for gathering and socializing and provides a different atmosphere than a typical lounge. The television was intentionally omitted to create a calming and gentle environment. The new and bright interior provides an atmosphere that is far more open and communicative for students, encouraging students to leave their rooms and interact
The design team worked closely with the campus to ensure that the original goals were met and the aesthetic vision was ultimately achieved. The result is a unique residence hall unlike others on campus, highly sought after by students and is a source of pride for SUNY Cortland.