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Bowers Hall Renovation   

State University of New York | SUNY Cortland 

Originally constructed in 1960, the existing 3-story (plus basement) science building has a conventional rectangular layout with a double-loaded corridor. The superstructure is composed of concrete-encased structural steel with beams located only along column lines. The infill slabs between girders are full bay waffle slabs cast over left-in-place hollow precast concrete void formers. As with buildings of that era, ventilation and air conditioning was minimal in the original design.


The renovation and expansion grew the total square footage to 108,000 sf, and features a new contemporary HVAC system. The 22,000-sf expansion added a new lobby and auditorium at the 1st Floor, a two-story teaching lab bar over the lobby, an adjacent planetarium and a new exterior stair tower. Furthermore, a new two-story mechanical penthouse was added, with each original supporting column (and their associated footings) requiring reinforcement to support the additional penthouse load. Structural alterations were needed for two reorganized interior stairs, a renovated elevator and new mechanical risers.


The story height of the original building was 11’-0” and the structural depth was 20”.  The new adjacent addition matches these dimensions through the use of reinforced cast-in-place concrete construction.  However, these dimensions do not accommodate conventional, contemporary HVAC systems. As a result, the design featured a complete structurally enclosed rooftop horizontal duct distribution system, emanating from the mechanical penthouse, that feeds new structurally enclosed exterior duct risers at every original perimeter column location. Each exterior duct riser services a vertical stack of three classrooms within a full column bay.


The original 1960 structure was designed for little to no wind load, and was not designed for any seismic load. The new design, therefore, with its expanded height due to the penthouse, required significant strengthening to accommodate contemporary wind loads.  Following the provisions of the code, we determined that the renovation did not need to comply with contemporary seismic loads. Strengthening for wind loads was accomplished through the insertion of four new full-height shear walls, each comprised of a distinct story segment (from the slab to the underside of the beam above), for each of the four stories of the original structure.  




Cortland, NY 



State University Construction Fund



Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF)

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