Benton Hall at Colgate University
Hamilton, N.Y.
Best Project

Owner: Colgate University
Lead Design Firm: Robert A.M. Stern Architects
General Contractor: Hayner Hoyt Corp.
Civil Engineer: Delta Engineers
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Masonry Contractor: Remlap Construction

The newest building at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., fits in with the historic campus aesthetic and also delivers a highly efficient, modern LEED Platinum structure.

The 17,600-sq-ft Benton Hall, home of the university’s new Center for Career Services and Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships, presented considerable challenges, with a site tucked into a hill and facing a difficult winter. The site’s grades required careful design work and extensive trenching as well as special effort to manage stormwater runoff during construction, which began in spring 2017 and finished in summer 2018.

A big element in the $11.3-million project was a mix of local bluestone and custom-cast stone with unique carvings that helped the facade blend into the wider campus. The precast pieces were numerous and massive, weighing 800 to 1,000 lb, requiring a detailed sequencing effort to interlace it with stonework. Crews would set a 10-ft to 12-ft-high precast section, then have another team thread stone through scaffolding or move it in by crane—a labor-intensive method for placing more than 600 tons of stone.

The exterior also contains a fluid membrane, layers of foam and fiberglass insulation. But installing the exterior in the winter required wrapping the building in scaffolding and plastic, while also tapping into the school’s steam line for temporary heat and the eventual heating and cooling system.

The team achieved LEED Platinum status in part by establishing an extensive recycling effort, installing high-efficiency energy systems and regionally sourcing 60% of materials.

The building offers advanced video conferencing systems to connect students with alumni worldwide, interview suites, and flexible common areas for events and academic use. The interior design offers details such as dark granite stairs, brass railings, coffered ceilings and recessed lighting. One judged lauded the “beautiful craftsmanship” that blends in with rest of Colgate’s campus.

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