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ocated near the Shawangunk Mountains, roughly 80 miles north of New York City, New Paltz State University of New York is one of the 64 campuses in the SUNY (State University of New York) system. It’s a system for which the late New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller was a strong advocate. “He consolidated the system and created the framework of the campuses,” explains John McEnrue, SUNY New Paltz’s director of facilities design and construction, who adds that after Rockefeller left office in 1973, many SUNY facilities built in the 1960s and 1970s were left to deteriorate.

That pattern of neglect began to change about 10 years ago, thanks to renewed interest in public universities, which offer a quality education at a lower cost than private schools. The administration of SUNY New Paltz—which has about 6,500 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students—could see that physically improving the campus was essential if the school were to remain competitive. “Students already understand what a college or university offers academically prior to visiting for admissions tours, but ultimately it’s how the campus looks and is maintained that will attract, and subsequently retain, them,” McEnrue says.

The renovation of the Wooster Building puts it on the path to receiving a LEED Gold designation.

When McEnrue joined New Paltz 11 years ago, there was no grand plan in place for improving the campus, but a landscape master plan and a facilities master plan were developed. “The landscape plan was to make the campus more pedestrian friendly,” McEnrue says. “We moved parking to the perimeter and added more green space, more walkways, and more lighting. We also carved out space for future projects, which we are currently developing. In terms of the facilities master plan, we realized we were about 400,000 square feet shy of space compared to peer institutions of similar student body size—that took into account classrooms, library space, faculty offices, and residential space. We’re in the process of rectifying that now.” McEnrue is at the heart of that effort. In his role, he’s responsible for developing long-range strategic facilities initiatives as well as overseeing planning, design, new construction, renovation, replacement, and deferred maintenance for academic, athletic, residential, and administrative facilities. He works closely with John Shupe, assistant vice president of facilities management, who McEnrue says “has provided truly inspirational leadership and a collaborative team approach and environment.” McEnrue also has a team that includes registered architects, architectural designers, construction managers, and a clerk administrator. Together, the team that McEnrue calls “a very talented, dedicated group of professionals,” has overseen a spate of work not seen since the days when Gov. Rockefeller held office.

WOOSTER BUILDING RENOVATION DURATION OF PROJECT: 3 YEARS COST: $36 MILLION AMONG THE PROJECTS ASSIGNED TO MCENRUE’S TEAM, along with the State University Construction Fund (SUCF), is the renovation of the Wooster Building, which was originally built in the early 1970s in a style that lacked a certain aesthetic. “The facility had large concrete walls,” McEnrue says. “It was dark and cavernous and not energy-efficient. We stripped it down to its frame, and it has become one of our greatest success stories. It’s become a pedagogically advanced facility. There’s natural light throughout all three floors. We installed a dining center,

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and the building’s on the path to receiving a LEED Gold designation.” One of the unique features incorporated by the architectural firm, Croxton Collaborative, is a solar timeline in the main atrium. The staircase rises above the timeline, beneath a skylight. Some of the steps on this staircase are lit by the sun, according to the path it travels along the sky between the summer and winter solstices. “On June 21st, you can see the sun on the top step, while on December 21st, the sun shines on the bottom step,” McEnrue says.

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American Builders Quarterly #63