The University at Buffalo today unveiled its plans for a new home for its Educational Opportunity Center, as part of an effort to provide expanded job-skills training and community programming to Buffalo residents.
When completed, the four-story EOC building will be built on a portion of an existing parking lot fronting Ellicott Street and will connect to the former M. Wile building to form the $46 million UB Downtown Gateway Complex located at 77 Goodell Street. A cornerstone of UB's downtown campus, the Gateway Complex will provide greater access to UB's academic and community programs.
The M. Wile building (below) and adjacent parking lots were purchased in November 2007 from the estate of Stephen McGarvey for $12 million.
The M. Wile building will be renovated and connected to the new building by a 4,900-square-foot glass atrium. In addition to serving as a reception area for the complex, the atrium-lobby will feature an open classroom/theater space for public events, a flexible exhibition/gathering space and self-service digital information kiosks.
UB President John B. Simpson said construction of the new EOC and creation of the UB Downtown Gateway Complex "represents one of the university's most significant expansions downtown to date and advances the UB 2020 strategic plan's focus on more effectively aligning the university's programs to maximize their impact on downtown Buffalo and the surrounding region."
The EOC provides disenfranchised urban community members with innovative academic programs that prepare them for higher education and vocational training. Part of a statewide network of ten Educational Opportunity Centers and two Outreach and Counseling Centers operated under the University Center for Academic and Workforce Development -- the State University of New York oversight office of the EOC -- for more than 40 years the EOC has helped people access higher education, obtain gainful employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
The Downtown Gateway Complex will link the EOC to UB programs slated to relocate to the renovated M. Wile building: the UB Center for Educational Collaboration, clinics and programs of the Law School and School of Social Work that serve the downtown population, and UB's Regional Institute. In addition, the Buffalo Employment Training Center (BETC) is located in Downtown Gateway Complex. Each of these programs addresses the challenges of unemployment, inadequate housing and poverty confronting Buffalo. Physical proximity to the EOC will enable UB to have a greater impact on the community by providing a streamlined pathway from job-skills development to job opportunities, and by sparking new opportunities for community enhancement. UB/MD also will have a presence in the building.
Designed by Holt Architects of Ithaca under the oversight of the State University Construction Fund, the new 63,834-square-foot EOC building will be constructed primarily of environmentally friendly, durable fiber cement panels and glass. The design will feature large window frames and open stairways that bring natural light into the building, and offer faculty, staff and students dynamic views of the city.
The first floor of the EOC will contain a conference center, enrollment management suite, career services suite and support spaces, in addition to a Head Start program, which will have an independent entrance and an enclosed outdoor playground.
Classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, a computer lab, library, "information commons" and student and faculty lounges will be located on the top three floors.
The building will be LEED certified in keeping with the goals of the UB 2020 strategic plan's focus on making the university's three campuses great places to live, work and learn, in part by improving their environmental sustainability.
Plans for the center's current location at 465 Washington St. have not been announced. Groundbreaking for the new EOC is expected in August 2010; construction is slated to be completed in 2012.
Video overview of new facility- here.