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SUNY Cortland’s DeGroat Hall formally reopens after $7 million renovation

By Journal Staff


CORTLAND — SUNY Cortland announced that a completely renovated DeGroat Hall opened its doors with 146 beds for students this fall after a $7 million update.

It was the first major overhaul for SUNY Cortland’s four-story, brick Georgian-style residential facility since it was built 65 years ago, the university said in a news release posted on its website.

The renovation modernizes DeGroat Hall — named after Harry De Witt DeGroat, the Cortland Normal School’s third principal —while “maintaining distinct touches from the past.”

“From new floors and energy efficient lighting and heaters to bath, bed and laundry room upgrades, this work exemplifies the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York’s commitment to providing quality living environments for SUNY students,” Gerrard P. Bushell, president and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, contended in the release.

Members of the SUNY Cortland campus community marked the completion of the major renovations with a grand-reopening ceremony and open house on Oct. 13.

The student residence was one of three companion buildings that were designed by Cortland architect Carl W. Clark and constructed in 1951 on Graham Avenue during the administration of president Donnal V. Smith, who served from 1943 to 1959.

DeGroat served from 1912 to 1943. During his tenure, he instituted many school traditions including its alma mater, the release stated.

The renovation
In December 2015, following the fall semester’s end, students moved out of DeGroat Hall and an “accelerated schedule of construction began,” according to Rob Shutts, SUNY Cortland’s director of facilities planning, design, and construction. Fahs Construction, of Binghamton, was the general contractor on the project and King + King Architects, of Syracuse, designed the revamped student residence. The goal was to open the building to house students for the fall 2016 semester, SUNY Cortland said, and it was met one month early.

“DeGroat had not received any appreciable improvement before the renovation,” Shutts said in the release. “It was one of the last residence halls to be updated as part of the campus master plan.”

With the completion of the partially renovated Casey and Smith Halls complex at the base of Neubig Road in the near future, every single dormitory-style residence on campus will have received major renovations in recent years, the college said.

DeGroat Hall has a new service elevator attached externally by glass corridors to the south side of the building. The improvement makes the second and third floors available to residents and guests with disabilities, in compliance with federal regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The contractor added kitchens to all of the DeGroat Hall lounges. Previously, it had been the only residence hall that had lacked them, according to the release.

The third-floor lounges contain features like padded window seats where students can “relax and read.” Throughout the building are modernized Georgian features that the original DeGroat Hall never had, including large decorative ceiling medallions, crown molding and wainscoting constructed to look like painted, hand-carved wood, the college said. The flooring is made of porcelain tile that “imitates white and silver marble, saving both on fiscal and natural resources.”

As with all other student residence halls renovated since 2005, DeGroat Hall contains many features that contribute to the campus goal of sustainability, such as energy efficient lighting, exterior-building envelope enhancements, and “numerous sustainable construction and design elements,” the release stated. The reconstruction project used wood from sustainable forests, low-volatile organic chemical (VOC) products, and materials containing recycled content.

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