Designed by Marcus T. Reynolds in a Flemish Gothic Revival style, the University Plaza Building was constructed between 1914 and 1918 and has served as SUNY's administrative headquarters since 1977. The exterior is clad in split-face granite blocks, with cast-stone window and door surrounds, copings, finials, and pinnacles. The small tower at the south end of the building is made of terra-cotta blocks.
"The building's exterior fade was surveyed from scaffolding and lifts to examine each block of cast stone and terra cotta and to record problems as a basis for repair or replacement," explained Robert A. Petito Jr. of John G. Waite Associates. The design team undertook archival research to uncover photographs of the building taken shortly after the original construction and to examine Reynolds' correspondence for problems with the fabrication of materials and construction. Samples of the mortar and cast stone were tested to determine the composition and condition of the materials.
While most of the 15,000 cast-stone units were in good to serviceable condition, a number were cracked due to rusting reinforcing bars or disintegrated from the leaching of binders. Western Building Restoration cleaned and repointed the fade, replaced the 640 cast-stone units that were beyond repair, installed cast-stone "Dutchman" repair blocks for units requiring less than full replacement, and repaired cracks and chips with a masonry repair material. The contractor had to replace fewer than 20 of the 255 terra-cotta units with new terra-cotta having a glaze matching that of the original.
During renovations in the 1970s, severely deteriorated cast-stone finials were removed from the dormers and not replaced. The design team decided to recreate these finials after reviewing historical photographs.
All of the judges commented on the painstaking work that went into this project. "They did a very detailed study to exactly renovate the building to the original standards, paying careful attention to the attachment details," said Dan Shapiro. Bill Palmer added that he "was very impressed that they got the original photos of the building and actually restored features that had been removed in the 1970s."
Owner: State University of New York
Architect: John G. Waite Associates, Albany, N.Y.
Structural engineer: Ryan-Biggs Associates, Troy, N.Y.
General contractor: Chapman Waterproofing Co., Boston
Masonry contractor: Western Building Restoration Inc., Albany, N.Y.
Cast stone fabricator: Sun Precast Co., McClure, Pa.
Terra-cotta fabricator: Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Orchard Park, N.Y.
Stone supplier: Adams Ross Cut Stone Co., Albany, N.Y.