University at Albany

Albany,

Alumni Quad Feasibility Study

In the spring of 2016, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), in collaboration with the University at Albany, retained Brailsford & Dunlavey to provide advice regarding the future disposition of Alumni Quad, a University-owned residential community. Alumni Quad is located three blocks from the downtown campus and three miles from the main campus. Over 800 of the University’s students are accommodated in four residence halls there, supported by a dining hall and ample outdoor recreation space. The fifth building on the site, Brubacher Hall, is leased to a neighboring institution, the College of St. Rose. Originally developed in phases between 1935 and 1961, the Quad’s buildings and grounds, although well maintained, were in need of reconfiguration and repair in order to appropriately accommodate contemporary program requirements and address significant deferred maintenance needs. B&D worked with the University to develop a strategy to reposition the Quad, establishing a residential community that responds to the students’ current and anticipated programmatic needs, further enhances the sense of campus community, and maximizes the Quad’s potential as an economic engine.

Key elements of this project’s work plan included:

• Defining programmatic and planning elements that would make the Quad a highly desirable place for students to live
• Evaluating the implications of renovating and / or expending existing Quad halls
• Determining potential strategies to demolish and replace part, or all, of the Quad’s halls; or vacating the Quad and locating its beds elsewhere
• Advising with respect to alternative project financing, delivery, and ownership structures that may be advantageous to the University

This study was developed in several phases, beginning with establishing a strong understanding of existing conditions, advancing to alternative planning strategies, and culminating in a recommendation to move forward. B&D led focus groups with students to discern their preferences for unit configurations and amenities, met with University leadership to evaluate site utilities, and updated a previously-prepared market study to determine rents charged by area apartment properties that accommodated University students. B&D also prepared six alternative planning strategies each of which was evaluated with respect to the goals established by the University, DASNY, and focus group findings. Of the six strategies, B&D recommended one it considered preferable since it included program flexibility, a cost effective strategy to create a campus community, and a strong potential for economic development. Conceptual floor plans for all proposed renovated and new facilities were also created, as was a detailed financial analysis including alternative financing strategies and the advantages and challenges of each.