Schenectady County

Union Graduate College building design satisfies

Now that it’s built, the new Union Graduate College doesn’t look as bad as planning commissioners on

Now that it’s built, the new Union Graduate College doesn’t look as bad as planning commissioners once feared.

“It turned out a little better than we first anticipated,” said Commissioner Matt Cuevas, who once said the building would look dull, bland and boring.

As the ceremonial ribbon-cutting takes place today, Cuevas still wishes the college had an entrance on Nott Terrace. But he can live with the final product, he said.

Architects designed a two-story glass atrium entrance — but it faces the parking lot, near Liberty Street. There is no door on Nott Terrace.

“It still does not address the Nott Terrace side as we had hoped, but you do get a sense of presence,” Cuevas said.

The corner entrance can be seen by passers-by on Nott Terrace, and it draws eyes away from the unadorned wall, he added.

“We had hoped there wasn’t just a straight, blank wall,” he said. “There is a presence to the building — maybe not what we would have opted for, but planning is always a compromise.”

College officials tried to make small improvements during construction to respond to Cuevas’ complaints. They added white vertical lines near the windows to decorate the front wall and expanded the green space near Nott Terrace.

“Who doesn’t like grass in front?” said Joe McDonald, college vice president of finance and operations. “Even the decorative fence kind of frames the building. We were able to add a little bit more.”

Students said they love the building — not for its exterior facade but for its wireless Internet access and the student lounge, which includes a fireplace.

“The atrium’s been a great place to relax, get some work done, hang out a bit,” said second-year student Justin Schmiedeo. “There’s a real focus on group work. Before [the building was built], there were no rooms for group projects. Now you can go to the center any time, day or night, and there are students there.”

McDonald added that he personally thinks the building is beautiful.

“We’re thrilled to pieces,” he said.

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