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Major renovations will create new welcome center in James B. Colgate Hall

By Daniel DeVries on October 18, 2013
An artist rendering of James B. Colgate Hall after renovations.

An artist rendering of James B. Colgate Hall shows the front of the building after planned renovations.

There is no second chance when it comes to a first impression.

Thanks to a lead gift from Dan ’86 and Ellie Hurwitz P’17 and the support of other Colgate community members, visitors to campus in March will be the first to experience an entirely renovated and renamed Hurwitz Admission Center in James B. Colgate Hall.

“With more than 8,000 prospective students and their families visiting the Office of Admission each year, it is essential for the university to have a space that effectively showcases the academic quality and value of a Colgate degree in a way that visitors will remember long after their campus visit experience,” said Vice President and Dean of Admission Gary Ross.

The entirely donor-funded project is being designed by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass., the same firm responsible for the campus master plan.

Visitors will be greeted by new immersive multi-media displays incorporating video and award-winning campus photography. Existing side doors will be replaced with a new central entrance, and the two open-air porches will be enclosed with glass, creating more space for comfortable waiting areas. The building’s exterior landscape will be redesigned to become more functional, with new seating areas giving visitors an option to relax while enjoying the natural beauty of campus.

“The renovated space is being designed to maintain and enhance the personal attention our visitors receive every day,” said Ross. “We are so appreciative for the support and commitment of the Hurwitz family, and we look forward to meeting future prospective students at this exciting new welcome center.”

New visual elements will be added to the admission informational session, and digital signage will assist visitors in their navigation of campus. Plans for a new Chipwich freezer also are included — an important feature —  because visitors consumed more than 11,000 of the traditional tour-end treats last year.

Work on the $2.5 million renovation is slated to begin in November, and fundraising is now in its final stages. Project completion is estimated for February 2014. Visitors to campus will be greeted at a temporary Office of Admission space in James C. Colgate Hall while the welcome center is under construction.



  • Dave Esber '13 said:

    Andrew, I’m glad to see you pointing to the use of innovative technologies at the University of Dayton. A group from campus visited UDayton a few weeks ago with the project’s creative firm, 160over90, who produced their interactive experience as well.

    I was floored by their approach in Dayton and am very excited for how 160over90 will blend the new space and our Colgate visit experience with the new technological canvas. Of course, even with these new technologies, one of the primary purposes of this design is to build on our tradition of making every prospective student, family and visitor’s time on campus as personalized as possible. This space–and the work from 160over90–will complement and augment that tradition.

  • Andrew Schiff '74 said:

    I watched the YouTube video, and the ‘new’ Admissions Center looks sterile, gloomy and depressing – much like the frequently overcast weather in upstate New York. A lot of money being spent to replace 19th century wood paneling with 21st century wood paneling.

    IMHO a much better, technology-infused approach (that has received a lot of attention) was implemented at Univ. of Dayton. Here’s the link:


  • charles h sanford '58 said:

    I agree with Don Lindeman 100%. The trustees and the president need to revisit the project. As a history major and one who remembers this great historical building as my library, it would not be inappropriate for visitors to have some prospective of a time when Colgate students used books.. As strange as it may seem, it was not that long ago.

  • Donald Lindeman '74 said:

    James B. Colgate Hall is one of our college’s most significant historic buildings. As I recall, it was originally Colgate’s library. The grand staircase in the entry hall itself is a true treasure.

    I’m happy that attention is being paid to this building, however I regret to say I don’t find the proposed changes to the entry façade historically idiomatic. The closing off of the two entrance (open) volumes on the right and the left is especially problematic, since these spaces, are signature elements of the original design concept, and really ought to be retained. Ideally, this aspect of the proposed plan should be revised.

    I understand the challenges of adapting historic buildings for current use, but would urge the architects to revisit their solutions for Colgate Hall. Also, new fenestration for all the windows of the building should be considered. Replacing the current silver-colored window units with dark bronze or even wood installations should be considered. Historical research into the original fenestration should precede any changes. The change of just these features alone could do wonders for the appearance of the building, enlivening the whole, and bringing out subtleties that we haven’t seen for decades.

    It wouldn’t take much in revisions to make this a truly successful design.

    –Donald Lindeman ’74 AB in Art and Architectural History

  • Lisa Hillenbrand said:

    Fantastic. This looks so warm and welcoming and is a beautiful use of the space. And it preserves the dignity of the building too. Bravo!