Monica Dore, News Editor
On September 4,our campus will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding. Since 1889, SUNY Oneonta has grown from just a single building at the top of Maple Street into a 250-acre campus with high-tech academic buildings. The most recent adjustment to campus is the newly refurbished Fitzelle Hall, which officially opened on August 25.
A ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. signaled the official opening of the hall, although students were already accessing the building’s new features for classes that morning. The three-story building was renovated with the goal of protecting the look of the original Fitzelle Hall while adding new features to better serve both students and faculty. The building is home to the departments of Africana and Latino Studies, Mathematics,Computer Science and Statistics, Philosophy and Psychology.The hall is also the location of over 100 faculty offices and 23 classrooms.
On the first floor of the building is Seasons Cafe, which specializes in serving locally grown seasonal foods. Stagecoach Coffee from Cooperstown,Chobani Greek Yogurt from Norwich and local meat and maple products are featured in the cafe this fall. The first floor also provides space for group projects and individual work in a naturally lit and open setting that is consistent with the rest of the building. A sky-lit atrium and
the use of windows gives the hall the beautiful natural lighting that architects had planned.
Outside, a handicap-accessible bridge and a glass covered walkway that leads to the HIRC will make traveling between classes much easier for students and professors, especially during the winter months.
Besides being an aesthetic success,Fitzelle Hall also meets the standards for a Silver LEED Certification,making the project an environmental achievement. The LEED Certification proves that the construction project and the building itself have as little effect on the environment as possible. The plumbing and water fixtures in Fitzelle are designed to reduce water usage by 30 percent and there are two showers located within the building so that students and staff can clean up if they choose to bike, run or walk to class. The windows are insulated to help the college save on heating and cooling costs, and window awnings also keep the buildings cool during warm months. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, west-facing windows can reduce solar heat gain by 77 percent,and the south facing windows are spared by about 65 percent. Outside of the building, native plants have been used rather than exotic plants that can become invasive.
The project totaled $28.5 million, and was about ten years in the making, according to Thomas Rathbone, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Safety at SUNY Oneonta. But the cost and the time put into the project seem to be worthwhile, as the outcome has met approval so far.
In an article from the Oneonta Daily Star, College President Nancy Kleniewski has said that the building exceeds expectations of the administration and that, “It’s something we are very proud of.” Colten Steinbrecher, a sophomore Psychology and Business Economics double major, adds “The brand new classrooms make learning and going to class much more enjoyable. And I think that the café adds a nice touch that other academic buildings don’t have.”
The building earns its name from Albert E. Fitzelle,who began his time as Dean of the College in 1946. Cynthia Lassonde, chairwoman and professor of elementary education and reading, believes that the building serves as an accurate representation of what Fitzelle would have wanted. According to Lassonde, “His ideas are alive in the structure that bears his name.”