Award-Winning Design Reflects Regional Landscape
“I would call the Student Union Addition the ‘Aerie,’ after the mountaintop perch where hawks make their home. This edifice symbolizes both the College's enduring link to its geographic setting and our shared aspiration to reach bold new vistas.”
-President Steven Poskanzer
The College began construction of the “Aerie,” a 14,000-squarefoot addition to the Student Union in December of 2008. Today, the unique structure, clad in 315 panels of energy-efficient glass, is taking shape and is expected to be complete in June in time for summer orientation.
The addition, designed by ikon.5 architects from Princeton, NJ, was developed to meet the demand of today’s students with the creation of additional conference and gathering spaces, an entertainment lounge and enhanced book store and food court access. State legislators Kevin Cahill (’77) and John Bonacic secured a $13 million state appropriation for the project.
The existing Student Union and Haggerty Administration Building are examples of Brutalism, an offshoot of the Modernist architectural style that was very much in vogue in the 1960s and 70s, explained John McEnrue, director of Facilities Design & Construction. The new addition placed between the two, however, is a glass edifice that symbolizes the Shawangunk Mountains to the west of New Paltz. It does so by replicating the topography of the mountain range.
The building was also designed to be the most sustainable, high performance building on campus to date by reducing energy consumption and providing a healthy and enlightened interior environment through the use of a ceramic fretted glass designed to mimic the bedding plains in Mohonk Mountain and to harvest daylight and reduce solar heat gain. Highly efficient radiant heating has been installed throughout and will sit under a recycled blue and orange glass-flecked floor.
Recently, the World Architecture News recognized the Aerie as “…influenced by the strong regional landscape of the Hudson River Valley where it is sited. The forms are drawn from the vistas of the Shawangunk Ridge and create an exterior sculptural expression of the landscape and a dramatic interior space of the Catskill Mountains.”
The design has already won several awards, including a 2009 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Metropolitan Arts Press. For this award, German architects selected 64 projects as the best new United States building and designs. The awards program – established in the 1990s – honors and recognizes outstanding new achievements and innovation for new architecture.
“The award celebrates the new structure’s unique design, its symbolic relationship to the Shawangunk Mountains and, most importantly, its purpose,” said McEnrue.