Welcome to the new Hayes Hall

Spirit of renewal surrounds reopening of UB icon as school kicks off 50th anniversary


Watch highlights from the grand reopening

Published October 6, 2016 This content is archived.

As he addressed the hundreds gathered in front of Hayes Hall for the historic building's recent Grand Reopening Celebration, Dean Robert Shibley exalted in the outcome of the five-year renovation of a treasured university and community resource: "[It] has given us the best of the old, and the best of the new."

Shibley's tribute to Hayes Hall captured the spirit of the day in more ways than one. Indeed, the School of Architecture and Planning reoccupies the fully renewed facility just as it prepares to mark 50 years since its founding - a coincidence that turned the Sept 23-24 reopening festivities into a milestone celebration of the history and work of the school, and all that's now possible in a building that sets standards in historic preservation, design and sustainability.  

“It is a spectacular facility, fully equipped to support our teaching, research and service in the place-making professions,” Shibley said during his opening remarks. “The quality of space and light, the embedding of technology in the learning environment, the efficiency of its systems — the search for knowledge will be better here because it’s a better place, and we want to be better because it’s a better place.”

Hayes Hall underwent a $44 million, five-year renovation that included a complete exterior restoration and reimagining of the interior. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places over the summer and is on track for LEED Gold Certification, the top rating by the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainable design and building. 

The building was constructed in the 1870s as the Insane Asylum for the Erie County Almshouse. UB acquired it in 1909 and converted it into an academic building in the 1920s, and renovated it again in the 1950s. The School of Architecture and Planning has called it home since 1977.

After the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, alumni, community members, faculty and students spilled into the building for a series of events that carried the celebration and invited reflection. In all, the two-day affair featured a a building-wide exhibit of the work of the school; a symposium headlined by alumni from across the eras; a talk by a distinguished alumnus playing a lead role in rebuilding Ground Zero; and a forum considering future directions for the school.

We are pleased to share the following recap of a momentous event for the University at Buffalo, the School of Architecture and Planning and the communities we serve. Thank you to all those who participated from near and far. This was the start of a conversation, with much more to come.

Reactions from the crowd

Spectacular, magnificent, glorious, remarkable. The adjectives and superlatives for Hayes Hall flowed freely - and often - at the reopening celebration as members of the UB and surrounding community reacted to the fully renewed historic landmark.

students in Hayes.

"I have a strong feeling that a school of architecture and planning should be located in a well-designed building. It should be inspirational to students, and this is," says David Crowther (MArch '16). "Good design is contagious. Being in this innovative, inspiring space is going to serve as a catalyst for students to graduate as the best designers and planners they can be." Read more student reactions

David Perry.

David Perry, professor emeritus and former chair of urban planning, was enthralled with the new attic studios: "I think they are remarkable. And I'm in love with the fact that we've opened them up. Finally." Perry now teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Urban Planning and Policy.

Stephanie Johnston.

Stephanie Johnston (MArch '85, BPS 83), a sole practitioner in Long Island: "I love this beautiful facility. I love that it’s structurally sound....I love the exposed ductwork. It's just very honest and clean....I almost feel like we have a brand new building hidden in the shell of the old building, and I love them both." 

Randy Asher.

Randy Asher (BS '95), principal of Brooklyn Technical High School and member of the school's Dean's Council: "I know I'll tell my students this is better than anything else out there." Noting the writable and pin-up ready walls and open critique spaces, he added: "There's an elegance in its simplicity...They designed it to encourage students to draw as they think."

Patrice Senaut.

Patrice Hannotte (BPS '84): "It's my first time back seeing the new Hayes Hall - I think they've done a wonderful job. I like how it's so new and modern yet you still have all the archways, curved walls, everything I remember. It’s such a bright space."

Thomas Desantis.

Thomas DeSantis (MUP '97, BA '79), who spent his first days as a student in the "Meter Building,' UB's former Bethune Hall on Main Street, had this to say: "It's pretty momentously cool. The feeling of this space is that it's a place where special things will happen.' DeSantis is senior planner for the City of Niagara Falls.

From the Podium

Click on the images below to view select remarks from the grand reopening ceremony.

More coverage from the grand reopening

  • Looking forward, looking back

    Across the eras, alumni, friends, students, faculty and community members came together to celebrate the legacy of the school as it marks 50 years from its founding. The conversation was equally forward-looking - the start of an important conversation about what's possible together.

  • Hayes Hall 'guest book' walls invite reflection

    To capture the spirit and sentiment of the Hayes Hall reopening events, we curated our writable glass walls as a building-wide “guest book.” What we got in return was inspirational.

  • Alumni, friends come together in support of new Hayes Hall

    The five-year renovation of Hayes Hall was a monumental and milestone effort for the university, school and community - and an object lesson in the principle that most great things are the product of collective effort and collaboration.

See more of Hayes Hall