Doty Hall to be "the new face of Geneseo"

Work is expected to begin within the next few weeks on renovations to Doty Hall, which will become home to college offices, an academic department and a performing arts space following its estimated completion in 2013.

Once Doty is renovated, it will house the offices of admissions and enrollment services, college advancement, international student services and the communicative sciences and disorders department. In addition, Doty will feature a new 200-seat recital hall.

According to President Christopher Dahl, the renovations to Doty will accomplish several of the college's goals. In part, he said, the decision to relocate key administrative offices to Doty is aesthetically motivated. Doty will be the first building visitors see on campus as the home of the office of admissions. It will serve as the face of Geneseo to the community and prospective students alike.

"It's the first building you see when you drive up to campus," Dahl said. "Where do you think the college begins?"

Doty, which is architecturally similar to both Sturges and Welles halls, is aesthetically consistent with Geneseo's image, Dahl said.

"Its physical appearance embodies the quality of Geneseo education," he said, adding that the building's style is similar to that of buildings found on the campuses of prestigious private colleges.

The addition of a new recital hall to Doty's first floor will also fill a gap in Geneseo's available performance and lecture spaces, said Dahl.

Dahl said it is important that Geneseo, as the "artistic center of the region," offer a mid-sized recital hall appropriate for performances by small musical ensembles. Currently, he said, Wadsworth Auditorium is too large a space for smaller musical ensembles, while Alice Austin Theater does not have suitable acoustics. He added that the new recital hall will also be used to host visiting lecturers who are expected to draw smaller crowds than those needed to fill spaces like the Union Ballroom.

Dahl also said that the relocation of the department of communicative sciences and disorders, currently housed in Sturges Hall, will increase accessibility. After renovations, Doty, unlike Sturges, will comply with the guidlines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to Dahl, the college is still evaluating how best to use the space in Erwin that will open up after the relocation of the office of admissions and the office for college advancement to Doty. At the moment, Erwin is crowded and its departments do not have enough offices for all their employees, Dahl said. The move of two of Erwin's offices will both ease overcrowding and offer an opportunity to potentially reorganize certain student services offices into a "one-stop shopping" space in Erwin, he said.

Dahl said that the terms of the renovation also allow the college to build a partnership with the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities. Accoridng to Dahl, the OPWDD will be housed on the garden level of the renovated building.

"Our partnership is symbolic that this is a campus that believes in diversity and that our diversity is wide-reaching," Dahl said, adding that the partnership will also open up volunteer and employment opportunities between the two agencies.

Dahl said that the collaboration between the college and OPWDD also helped to secure a state appropriation for the project, noting that by working together the two parties "made much more efficient use of state resources."

The Doty building has changed hands several times between the college and OPWDD. The college initially purchased Doty, once used as a high school, in 1985. Shortly thereafter, the college sold the building to OPWDD for $1 and reacquired it more than 20 years later at the same price when OPWDD "no longer had the need or funds for the space," said Ken Levison, vice president for administration and finance.

According to Jeffrey Kaplan, director of facilities planning, the approximately $24 million project is "roughly equally funded from our [college's] five-year capital plan and as a strategic initiative specifically earmarked for Doty."

OPWDD, which moved temporarily into the Holcomb building last month to allow renovations to begin on Doty, is slated to return to the building in October 2011 once its space on the garden level is fully renovated, Kaplan said.

Kaplan said college officials expect the space on the first and second floors to be renovated by Dec. 28, 2012, adding that Doty should be in full use by spring semester 2013.

According to Kaplan, among the technical improvements to Doty will be a geothermal heating and cooling system and a hardwired access control system in which "keys will be unnecessary and access to every room will be through an ID card."