Onondaga Community College Mulroy Hall Renovations

Onondaga Community College (OCC), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, has a rapidly growing student population. With a strong need for additional space, the college retained the C&S Companies to transform Mulroy Hall, a historic 45,000-square-foot, four-story building, into additional classrooms and offices for OCC’s expanding higher education program. The building, which was originally constructed in 1928, with an addition from 1969, had served as a home for the poor and ill in Onondaga County, but had been closed down after new, modern facilities were built. The building stood unused for more than 10 years and needed major renovations. C&S provided architectural, MEP, hazardous materials, life safety, and landscape architecture services for this project along with a specialty firm for elevator work. In addition to reconfiguring interior partitions, many elements needed to be replaced, including the roof, exterior doors and windows, all interior finishes, and the complete plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and security systems. A new elevator shaft was also installed.

One of OCC’s primary goals for the project was to reduce the impact on the environment. Reusing the existing building allowed the college to honor a historic property and reduce the environmental impact from new construction.

The renovation unified the building’s façades by using existing architectural features on the south façade. The ribbon windows of the 1969 addition were separated with a metal panel system to pick up the rhythm of openings found in the 1928 building. All the windows were replaced with new energy-efficient windows to help unify the building and infuse a more modern aesthetic. C&S strove to link past with present in this renovation. Inside, the steel columns and concrete floor structures were left exposed, along with brick walls in the stair and elevator enclosures, and mechanical, electrical and telecommunication components at the ceilings. Exposing the structural components and utility systems allows the building itself to become a teaching lab for the architectural technology and engineering science programs.

The abandoned east elevator tower was transformed into a clock/bell tower, creating a new distinctive entrance on the east side. This tower forms a visual focal point for the future development of the site. Establishing a prominent east entrance creates a means of unifying the building with other buildings planned further east on the north side of the campus.

In addition to new windows, the weather-tightness of the building was achieved through the replacement of the existing roof with a new built-up roof system, storefront door systems, and steel door systems. Vehicle and pedestrian circulation patterns were arranged to complement future development of the site, and create a cohesive campus setting with park-like walkways.

The innovative project gave the college a “historically modern” building with 16 smart classrooms, 47 offices, 3 conference rooms, and 3 group meeting rooms.

This project received a Silver ACEC Engineering Excellence Award in 2012.