Former high school transforms into eco-friendly flagship

After nearly four long years of remodeling, the construction vehicles finally drove away and the orange fence officially came down around Doty Hall. Although the building has been open to students and faculty since the middle of the fall 2013 semester, in an effort to properly celebrate the big unveiling to the community, the college put together a Grand Opening of Doty Hall for March 1 and 2.

“While the building is always open to the community, the grand opening gives community [members] an opportunity to spend some time in the building and feel welcomed,” said Becky Glass, executive secretary to the president. Glass is a member of the committee that planned the opening.

What was once a high school, Doty is now “the first place for prospective students and their families to get to know Geneseo,” Glass said. The building was completely stripped and reconstructed to become the new home of Geneseo Admissions, International Student Services, College Advancement and other administrative offices.

While the administration made efforts to keep the outside of Doty completely intact, Glass said a few features were added to accommodate the many departments and facilities housed there.

“There have been a few additions over the years as well, but they were all done in matched brick facade.” Glass said.

Although the outside essentially looks the same, the inside of the building was completely remodeled from tower top to basement bottom.

“The high school used to be a traditional layout, with one long hallway and good-sized classrooms on either side, which the departments used as offices,” Glass said. “But now there are multiple hallways, individualized offices and specialized rooms for different purposes.”

The garden level was also renovated for the continued use of the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities. As a multifunctional building, Doty is also now home to the community based Small Business Development Center and the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development, a facility that bridges the gap between the campus and the wider community through student ambassadorships.

The old gymnasium was also converted into a state-of-the-art recital hall – one that Glass said is “very nearly acoustically perfect” and will serve as an alternative to Wadsworth Auditorium.

In conjunction with these structural changes, Doty Hall also now includes many Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design components, including geothermal heating and cooling energy, recycled content products, porous pavements, the use of regional materials, rainwater harvesting and water efficient plumbing fixtures.

“Not all the rooms are outfitted quite the same way,” Glass said. “But honestly, one of the best things is how bright the building is – there are so many beautiful windows, both newly constructed and remodeled.”

And while compared to Erwin, Doty Hall might seem a bit out of the way to on-campus students, Glass said the change of scenery for the administration is functional as well as favorable.

“Erwin is now exclusively dedicated to student services,” she said. “So not only is admissions more accessible to the community, but Erwin is now ‘one-stop shopping’ for a lot of the things that students need.”

Of course, while most of the changes are practical, the remodel also added several newfangled aesthetic and technological advancements into the building that make Doty feel a bit like the inside of the Starship Enterprise: programmable frosting glass, automatic shades, shiny new elevators, flashy media centers and new web conference rooms.

While the spaces that employ these technologies are not yet available to students, Glass said the college hopes to make them accessible in the future. Rooms will be available for classes before clubs and groups will also be able to reserve rooms through a student manager system, similar to the College Union.

Of course, the open house event aims to celebrate both the old and new aspects of the building, and throughout the weekend guests can enjoy refreshments, tours, exhibits, displays and the opportunity to reminisce and explore the building.

The open house will officially begin with a ribbon cutting in the Doty Hall lobby, followed by the unveiling of a ceramic relief by professor of studio art Carl Shanahan. Other events include a presentation of original leather-bound copies of the four-volume History of the Genesee Country series by Lockwood R. Doty and a “Reflections on Doty” panel in which alumni and audience members will share memories of Doty as a high school and workplace.

Between the two days, there will also be a musical performance by some of Geneseo’s most accomplished student musicians and an inaugural concert by faculty musicians in the Doty Recital Hall.

It’s an event that “will hopefully serve as a formal invitation to everyone to come see the finished work,” Glass said. “The renovation has been very public; people have been watching it happen for years, and now we [want to] give people a chance to come and check it out.”