In collaboration with the School of Architecture and the University, Garrison Architects established three principles to guide this project:
- Make the building visually and environmentally porous to encourage communication as well as increase natural light and ventilation.
- Remove the accumulated material of past renovations and edit the building to reveal its inherent qualities.
- Introduce new programmatic elements as contemporary constructions in a mutually reinforcing relationship with the historic fabric of the building.
The building’s abandoned atrium became the focus of this effort. New openings were created at strategic locations to reveal the school’s activities and the new architectural insertions. The atrium now allows sunlight to penetrate the center of the building and air to move throughout unassisted by fans and ducts. The building’s early twentieth century ventilation engine, fueled by gravity, was restored and augmented with contemporary controls. As the school now occupies the entire building, the atrium promotes visibility and encourages interaction among faculty, students, and visitors, bringing the school together as a single entity. At the center of the building, years of accumulated construction were removed to reveal vast interior volumes. One of these now contains a flexible gallery and presentation space with a 135 seat auditorium supported above. These spaces work in harmony with one another, as overflow audiences occupy the gallery and are linked to activities inside via digital projection. The auditorium is designed to create optimal acoustics for both its interior and the gallery below. It was designed as a three dimensional digital model which was imported directly to CNC routers that milled its bamboo plywood cladding system. In the fall 2008, after this complete renovation, the Syracuse University School of Architecture has reoccupied its ninety-year home.