Highlighting the Moffett Center Transformation – SUNY Cortland


Nearly 70 years ago, the Moffett Center opened as a center for physical education, health, and recreation on the SUNY Cortland campus.

On Thursday, in a space that for decades has been filled with the squeak of sneakers on old hardwood, the university celebrated the transformation of the historic brick structure into a modern center of academic learning of a very different nature.

“It’s really fun now that the old ones are coming back. They walk in here and are absolutely amazed,” said President Erik J. Bitterbaum, standing in a cathedral-like forum awash with natural light and busy students. “It’s really become a very important space for us.

“It is not only part of our past, but also part of our future. It’s really quite amazing.

Bitterbaum was joined by Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Zach Newswanger and Student Government Association President Taylor Hunter to ceremoniously cut a red ribbon to officially recognize the completion of the second and final phase of the renovation. .

The $25 million project transformed the former gymnasium into the Moffett Center Forum, a 3,400 square foot open space topped with wide skylights and filled with study alcoves and comfortable furniture where students and faculty can meet. Sawubona, a cafe that serves premium African coffee and specialty sandwiches, has become a student favorite.

“I want to thank you for creating a space like this for students,” Hunter said during the ceremony. “A space where they can have a snack and have a great social networking experience.”

A second-level mezzanine offers to assess a variety of reimagined classrooms and offices for academic specialties such as political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, health, criminology, African studies and Moreover.

In all, the project created 72,000 square feet of new indoor classroom, office, laboratory and living room. There’s a quiet study area, a collaborative classroom, and a new home for the SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement.

The building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system was upgraded and expanded, windows were replaced, and natural lighting was improved, such as the skylight in the forum and the glass windows atop the classroom walls. As a result, the building’s energy consumption intensity decreased by 40%, Newswanger said.

The transformation has been a long time coming. Phase I of the Moffett Center update was completed in 2009. It renovated 20,000 square feet of main level space encompassing the pool and back wall facing the Sperry Center into modern classrooms, offices, the Rozanne M. Brooks Museum, and a lounge for the Sociology/Anthropology Department.

A second phase was designed by Holt Architects of Ithaca, NY in 2011, but the economic recession halted renovation progress. New York State only released funds to complete the remaining update in 2019. Construction was done during the pandemic and the building reopened a year and a half ago. COVID-19 concerns, however, delayed major campus events, including Thursday’s ribbon cutting.

“This is an extraordinary achievement for SUNY Cortland,” Newswanger said. “Not only because of the time frame, but more specifically, we were able to complete the project on time in the midst of a pandemic.

“Thanks to the contributions of the many teams affiliated with this project, SUNY Cortland has a building with this incredible Georgian facade, paired with a new, modern interior that will support and foster the growth of our students, faculty, and staff.”

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