Press Releases

Major Renovation for Purchase Plaza

Date Released: 8/7/2009

New Landscaping and Infrastructure

Kickoff ceremony held August 18 at 11 AM

A new look for the Purchase College campus. The central plaza of Purchase College will undergo a major renovation this year to create a more sustainable campus through energy efficiency, innovation and green technology. A kickoff ceremony to officially launch the project will take place on August 18 at 11 AM.  President Thomas Schwarz will be joined by officials from the New York State Construction Fund.

"We are excited about this transformation of the plaza.  It is the first major overhaul of this outdoor space since the campus was constructed some 40 years ago," said Thomas J. Schwarz, President of Purchase College "The entire plaza will be replaced,"  he said. "We will remove the austere brown brick walkways over the plaza deck and install more plantings in raised beds and add new trees. There will be informal seating areas where students can study or meet informally and where our faculty, staff, and visitors can enjoy an environmentally attractive environment. The restoration will have long term benefits for our campus infrastructure," he added.  "It will repair the failed drainage and waterproofing systems and create a leak free environment within our buildings.  It is in keeping with our Sustainable Building policy," said President Schwarz.  The President signed the American College & University President's Climate Commitment in 2007.

The renovation will have cafe' seating areas on the plaza adjacent to food service areas.  Other seating will be near entrances to academic buildings along new paths.  Hammocks (a Purchase tradition) will be placed strategically for lounging beneath the trees.  New reflective lights will be located along main walkways and at entrances to buildings.  Light columns will illuminate areas below the tree canopy and the seating areas.

New building signs made of precast concrete will identify each building and be incorporated into the landscape opposite entrances to  academic buildings.

In describing the project Christopher Gavlick, director of Capital Facilities Planning said, "The Great Court was originally conceived by campus planners as an area in which the academic buildings were centered around the Library and Bookstore buildings and linked by a covered walkway that defines the plaza.  Each building was surrounded by a series of open spaces and pedestrian streets which reinforced the buildings connection to the plaza. "
"Portions of the plaza" he explained, "are over occupied spaces which serve as offices, studios, labs, and mechanical rooms, making it a de facto roof as well. The plaza deck and drainage renovations will restore the area as the campus center for student activity and academic life as originally envisioned by master architect Edward Larrabee Barnes."

"The existing plaza deck waterproofing, drainage system, and pavement had reached the end of their serviceable life and needed to be replaced.  The waterproofing was breached in numerous locations and the drain system was clogged and ineffective.  Complete replacement of the plaza deck assembly, drainage piping and waterproofing system was required to restore the plaza to a fully functioning roof deck system," said Gavlick. 

Purchase College is using this as an opportunity to evaluate the use of landscaped areas to reduce the amount of overall impervious pavement and to make an investment in green wet weather infrastructure.

According to Gavlick, "this will serve three purposes: one, reduce the amount of existing surface runoff; two, the additional landscaped areas will slow the infiltration rate of rainwater, thereby reducing the demand on the existing drainage system; and third, to act as a bio-filter improving the water quality runoff conveyed to the existing storm system."

The project is part of a larger Purchase College initiative to create a more sustainable campus.

The storm water runoff will be reduced and the water quality will be improved by the introduction of new planted areas.  Plants will include a variety of native and adapted trees, shrubs, grasses and ground cover planted within soils specifically engineered to promote infiltration and plant health.

Plaza renovations also include several environmentally centered initiatives and green design objectives.  About 4,000 linear feet of existing granite paving will be re-used as curbing around the perimeter of the new planting beds.  Four new pavement colors, which are lighter and more reflective in tone, will be introduced to complement the granite curbing. The new design will reduce the amount of pavement by 25% and increase the thermal properties for the occupied spaces below the plaza.  The improved drainage and increase in planting beds will create a water quality and runoff mitigation benefit by filtering the rain water through the planting beds and delay release into the existing storm system.  The landscape will increase by two-thirds, from the current 74,943 square feet to 126,025 square feet.  In addition, the new planting areas and lighter colored pavement will reduce the current heat island effect.    
The work is scheduled for completion by August 2012.


Lead Agency: State University Construction Fund

Project Management: Purchase College Office of Capital Facilities Planning

Architect: San Fanandre Justin Architects PC, New York, NY

Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York

Engineers: AMSEC LLC, New York, NY

Surveyors: Chazen Engineering, Poughkeepsie, NY

General Contractors: MPCC Construction Corp, New Rochelle, NY 

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