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The exterior envelope of the Visual Arts Building, originally designed by The Architects Collaborative in the 1970s, needed repair and replacement to stop water infiltration and improve thermal performance. This required extensive masonry repair and replacement; complete replacement of all exterior windows and doors; and a new green roof system. The program brief required that the project address the exterior envelope only; funding for future projects, including replacement of the HVAC system and interior finishes, would follow at a later date.

The intent of the project is to create a weather-tight and comfortable learning environment that inspires the next generation of fine artists. Our approach included research, analysis and destructive investigation in order to understand the context of this new work. Major factors included programmatic requirements, environmental performance standards for materials, and the condition of the existing building.

Through our research and analysis, we determined that the existing construction had insufficient thermal and moisture protection. Thermal exchange was problematic at all surfaces of the building envelope, and the structural steel remained exposed to outside air and moisture. Areas that were most susceptible to water and air infiltration are those where different assemblies intersect.

We reduced water infiltration by designing and specifying high-performance materials and properly detailing the intersections of the new envelope with the existing construction. The new curtain wall includes operable windows, higher shading coefficient values and thermal performance to improve the work environment for faculty and students. All new curtain wall and roofing includes proper flashing and air/vapor barrier to drastically reduce thermal and moisture problems.

A new green roof was installed on the entire building. This demonstration project assisted in the university’s overall sustainability initiative, specifically addressing storm water management. This new system improves the views from the second floor corridor and administrative offices.

For more information, see the SUNY Purchase Visual Arts website.

Project Type






Building Area

Services Provided

162,000 ft

15,050 m

Architectural Design





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