UB’s 4-story Townsend Hall, built in 1903, stood vacant for decades awaiting a program that could fit its compact footprint. The university determined that they needed it to house administrative functions for either Human Resources, Academic Affairs, or a VP – so it needed to be move-in ready for any of the three.
The design team conducted programming exercises to establish common needs and wants, determining the best mix of offices, open workspace, and private support spaces. The building was laid out in different ways, test-fitting scenarios that made the most of the space while accommodating each department. The result is in an adaptable, functional floor plan that houses new technologies, systems and the most people in a comfortable, productive way, with flexibility for future use without renovations. Ultimately, Human Resources moved in with no required design changes.
Renovations included new forced-air HVAC systems, a University requirement. The distribution was laid out for ease of maintenance and appropriate ceiling heights – a challenge given the building’s era. Dignified accessibility is provided while preserving the building’s historic elements, including the mid-level main entrance. An existing stair tower was reclad in terra cotta, providing a modern contrast to the original limestone.