Waterbury Hall

Location:  Oswego, NY

Completed:  February 2012

Program:  Residence Hall

Construction Type:  Renovation

Sustainability:  LEED Silver (standard)

Awards:  2019 AIACNY Award of Merit

The task of renovating Waterbury Hall was one to adapt an outdated facility to the expectations of today’s college students and the technological future of higher learning facilities. The result is a bright, technology dense space that provides students with a home on campus where they can be productive and feel safe.

The design team was charged with creating a welcoming new face for the building that would not only provide a new entrance to the building, but also provide new lounges serving the upper two floors, which previously had no space to call their own. These new lounges give students a place to gather and present a view back across the campus through the two-story curtain wall. The upper level floor plate is pulled back to create a double height space in an effort to foster student interaction between floors. Kitchens and televisions are provided on each level, and the built-in bookcase and corner window seat that seem to float in the glass walls provide academically focused amenities. The two existing lounges on the lower floors were underutilized; they have now been given new life with durable finishes and reprogramed to help ensure their usage.

The existing building had no ADA accessible spaces, with a complicated section and numerous level changes. Through the renovations, the design team was able to provide students with disabilities access to all building spaces with the addition of exterior and interior ramps, as well as the construction of a new elevator. In addition, every existing door within the building was widened to allow wheelchair access. The old style gang bathrooms were also replaced with new fully accessible private bathrooms, providing the University the opportunity to locate students of each gender by room, rather than just by building wing or floor.

Waterbury Hall’s site is quite remarkable; directly on the Lake Ontario shoreline, and surrounded by hearty windblown pines. While the original building was an international style housing block that essentially ignored the natural beauty of the site, this massing and orientation away from the lake does provide the benefit of providing a wind break for those approaching the building from the campus side. The design team was able to provide a panoramic visual connection to this picturesque site through extensive new energy efficient glazing in the main floor lounge. The lakefront site is also leveraged with corridor-end operable dampers that are automatically opened when conditions allow, along with another at the top of the elevator tower, controlled by the building management system. In warm weather a stack effect is created by the height of a shaft within the elevator tower and the cool lake breeze is drawn through the building corridors, providing effective cooling and ventilation with near zero energy usage. This innovative strategy, along with many others such as extensive rain gardens and bio swales, carefully studied solar protection, and naturally derived, low life-cycle cost materials, are providing the necessary credits for the pursuit of a minimum LEED Silver certification.