Design Pairs Improved Functionality and Beauty at College Maintenance Facility

SUNY Coblesill

Cobleskill, NY

SUNY Cobleskill is a modern, 902-acre campus set in the rolling hills of Schoharie County, a major employer and economic center in this rural county. The team that oversees the physical campus occupies the Mackey Maintenance Complex. Marked by a “Pizza Hut” roofline, the nondescript building had seen no improvements since it was constructed in 1967.

A $6.7 million renovation project (which was fully funded by the State University Construction Fund) set out to elevate the presence and function of the outdated facility for the team that keeps the campus functioning and looking beautiful and to ensure the building better reflected the modern aesthetic of the rest of the campus. This project had three important goals: 1) stabilize the building envelope, 2) replace aging mechanical systems, and 3) improve the layout and function of the complex.

The resulting design received an 2023 Excelsior Award from the NYS AIA.

These goals were achieved with a focus on sustainability that started with the decision to reconstruct the existing building, conserving its embodied energy, rather than demolish it and build a new one. The renovation was designed to meet LEED Silver and ASHRAE standards, incorporating a continuously insulated exterior envelope.

The exterior was reskinned in a palette that harmonizes with the campus aesthetic, punctuated with Cobleskill orange. The awkward roofline was redefined. The original tongue-and-groove roof planks were carefully salvaged and reused to infill the shop ceilings.

Today, the primary entrance to the Mackey Facilities Complex is easily located and features a vestibule designed to establish a welcoming entry to the building. The new main entrance is marked by a distinctive lighted metal feature, which is echoed at each shop entrance, defining the facility’s multiple functions. The new site adds a logical arrival point, improved traffic flow, and defined parking, including spaces equipped with electric vehicle chargers for the team’s growing electric fleet. The old dirt parking lot was replaced with asphalt, site lighting, and dedicated parking areas that help create a welcoming experience for staff members and visitors alike.

Inside, a new layout provides defined spaces for both maintenance and administrative functions. The new office layout on the administrative side features both formal and informal meeting spaces. A break room and training area on the shop side feature access to a patio overlooking views of the surrounding hills. Large windows throughout the building infuse the spaces with natural daylight and provide similar views.

As part of the deep energy retrofit, outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, many of which were original to the building, were upgraded. The foundation received new waterproofing, drainage, insulation, and cladding.

SUNY Cobleskill is a major employer in Schoharie County, and many local employees are part of this team that is dedicated to keeping the campus both functioning and beautiful. The renovated complex reflects the importance of both the function of the building and the team that works there, who have expressed a renewed sense of pride in their workspace. They now come to work in a facility that is equal to the campus they oversee, and their renewed pride is evident.