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Sense of Place

Marist College's Hancock Center

Mixing technology with tradition
University Business, June 2011

Overlooking the Hudson River, this tech center helps orient the Marist College (N.Y.) campus to the river and will help enforce the role of technology across disciplines.

  • FUNCTION: With four stories and 57,000-square-feet, the building houses the School of Computer Science & Mathematics, the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, a student investment center, an IBM partnership office, a data center professionals institute, administrative offices, and collaborative work space.
  • CHALLENGES: Officials at the liberal arts college sought to infuse technology into every discipline so that all graduates understand how technology impacts them. "For almost 20 years, Marist has recognized the importance of information technology and how it was changing our lives and our careers," says Dennis Murray, president since 1979. But, without a building dedicated to technology, it wasn't easy to implement. "This building is the next step in doing that," he explains.

A second challenge was making sure the new building fit into the campus master plan, adopted in 2005 with one goal of orienting the campus to the river. "The Hudson is one of the most historic and scenic rivers in the United States, if not the entire world," boasts Murray. Before redevelopment, a parking lot sat on the site with the best view of the river. The Hancock Center is the final step in reorienting the entire campus to its "beautiful, historic, scenic backyard," he says.

  • SOLUTION: The Hancock Center will move all the technology-based programs into one building in the center of campus, and act as a place where students from all disciplines can get their hands on cutting-edge technology.

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion, a nationally-recognized public opinion poll housed at the college, has a new home in the center. A trading center will allow students studying finance and investment to manage some of the college's endowment.

While the facility itself is a major development for the college, its construction will help enhance other features of the campus as well. Previously, the math and computer science programs were housed in the Lowell Thomas Communications Center. Now that those programs have a new home, says Murray, the communications building is freed up "to be renovated to do a better job for communications," furthering the broad academic impact of the Hancock Center.

The impact is both academic and aesthetic. Building materials match the original grey-stone estate buildings that Marist was built around, connecting the past with the present. "It's an environmentally-friendly building but it looks like a much older, traditional, classic building," says Murray. Sustainable features include a green roof for absorbing and filtering rain water, energy efficient lighting that brightens or dims depending on the time of day, and the use of sustainable materials.

  • COST: $35 million (paid in full with donations)
  • TIMELINE: Soft move-in March 2011; dedication May 2011
  • DESIGN: Robert A.M. Stern Architects (N.Y.)
  • Construction of a life science building at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The 101,000-square-foot, $108.6 million building will be the first new academic laboratory facility at UAF since 1994 and is the final in a trio of life science research and teaching facilities. Designed by Bezek Durst Seiser and SmithGroup, the building is slated for completion in 2014.
  • Construction of a new laboratory science building at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The 144,000-square-foot, $156.5 million building, designed by Boston-based Wilson Architects, will support the university's research presence, housing 64 faculty members and their research groups. In addition to laboratories, it will contain a vivarium and imaging and computation facilities. It's scheduled for completion in May 2012.