We were hired by New York’s State University Construction Fund to design an arts complex addition, dramatically reconceiving the 1968 I.M. Pei complex on the SUNY Fredonia campus. We created a linear addition at the west facade, transforming the former service side of the building into a primary entrance. We inverted the existing material language of long concrete walls by employing a palette of metal and glass walls with accents of concrete details.
Our addition includes classrooms, sculpture and ceramics studios, performance spaces for music and dance, and a variety of shops and other shared facilities, including areas for set design and construction.
Corridors walled with tackboard double as critique spaces and informal galleries. Ceramics studios remain unadorned, built to withstand the heavy use of art making.
Floor-to-ceiling windows fill the dance studio with light, opening rehearsals to campus and turning the building into a nighttime beacon.
The existing building’s language was one of long concrete walls punctured with metal and glass, a combination we inverted to create a lighter palette where concrete is reserved for detailing. Throughout the glass façade, metal fins shade the building from heavy sun, adding texture and depth to the facades.
Key People
Noah Biklen
Project Lead
Scott Price
Project Manager

Deborah Berke Partners


Robert Silman Associates

Structural Engineer

Lakhani & Jordan Engineers

MEP Engineer

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

Landscape Architect

Larsen Engineers

Civil Engineer

Harvey Marshall Berling & Associates


PHT Lighting Design, Inc.

Lighting Designer

Front, Inc.

Facade Consultant

Fisher Associates

Geotechnical Engineer

I.M. Pei & Partners

Original Architect, 1968.

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Excelsior Award

AIA New York State

Design Award of Merit

AIA New York

Architecture Award

2017 AIA Buffalo/WNY

American Architecture Award

The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design

Design Award of Honor

SARA National

Design Award of Merit

SARA New York Council

Architect Magazine

November 2017

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Bird's eye photograph of building site and context.
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Anitmated axonometric drawing.
Series of small schematic models.
A fundamental question for this project was how to respond to the site’s historic context: I. M. Pei’s campus masterplan and original Rockefeller Arts Center building.

In Pei’s 1964 masterplan, the iconic Ring Road encircles athletic fields, open spaces and wooded landscapes to the north, while residential and academic buildings are concentrated in the southern half of the campus. Considering the overall campus layout, we added a main entrance on the new design’s west face, inverting the orientation of the original building. This re-orientation, along with the prominent visibility of the rehearsal spaces’ floor-to-ceiling windows, gave the Rockefeller Arts Center a renewed presence on campus.
For this project, being “true-to-place” meant both taking inspiration from and making deliberate contrasts to the existing context. Where Pei used a language of concrete and sparse glass with dark metal accents, our new addition sports the inverse: expanses of weathering zinc and glass, detailed with concrete moments. These new board-formed, diagonally striated concrete accents demarcate our work from that of the original building. At once an homage and a reinterpretation, the approach here is reverent but assertive.