Published January 5, 2021
A historic UB building is preserved and updated, campus space is better utilized and an essential UB team has a new home, thanks to a five-year collaboration between UBIT and campus partners.
Originally built in 1903, Townsend Hall on UB’s South Campus has been vacant since 1984. Beginning in 2021, it will be the new home to UB’s Human Resources division, formerly located in Crofts Hall.
The newly designed Townsend Hall has flexible spaces built for in-person and remote collaboration, designed and built in partnership between UBIT, University Facilities and the HR professionals that would soon call Townsend Hall home.
Physical space is at a premium at UB. Finding the right space for every UB department and unit is a logistical puzzle, often involving many different parties working together over the span of several years.
“In some ways, the biggest challenge was finding the right team to fit in the building,” said Sean Brodfuehrer, the UB Architectural Planner who worked on the project. At 12,000 net assignable sq. feet, Townsend Hall is one of UB’s smaller buildings.
UB’s Human Resources team fit the bill. The roughly 75 person team was due for an upgrade, and with careful planning, the building interior could be redesigned to meet their needs better than their previous space.
The first phase of the project involved preserving the building’s historic edifice. Meanwhile, UBIT engineers began to assess the challenges of taking a hundred-plus year old space, which hadn’t been updated in over three decades, and building a functional workspace for the future.
When UB’s construction crews first entered the building around 2016, things were in rough shape.
“There were dead pigeons lying on the floor. It was like something out of a horror movie,” recalled Cheryl Zimmerman, Project Manager for UB Facilities Design & Construction.
The work ahead wouldn’t be easy, but the crew designing the interior space had an advantage: while the exterior of the building was to be preserved, the interiors could be gutted and completely redesigned.
Adam Pellittieri is a Classroom Systems Engineer for UBIT Customer Service. Adam worked closely with the Human Resources team to design the technology that would be built into the new space.
“I’ve been at UB for about two years,” Adam said. “This was my first project of this scale, and my HR orientation was still fresh in my mind while working on it.”
According to Adam, collaboration was at the forefront of the project from the beginning. A large part of his work was working with HR to help them better understand what technology was available to fit their needs.
Because HR collaborates closely with UB employees on sensitive subjects like payroll and healthcare, they needed more spaces where business could be conducted securely, whether their clients were in-person or remote.
The new office features more intimate flex spaces outfitted with web conferencing technology, in addition to a larger conference room, offices and cubicles, designed to be more functional and equitable for everyone.
“Overall, space did not shrink too much,” said Sean Brodfuehrer, the UB Architectural Planner who worked on the project. “Offices are all of a similar size, meeting UB’s space standards, and they have a more equal share of the space than before.”
To make this ideal space possible, three members of UBIT’s Network and Communication Services team, Brian Przepasniak, Leslie Evans and Adam Zangerle, planned and installed network utilities for fast and reliable internet access at every point in the building, while ensuring effective utilization of every square foot. Network consolidation points were installed in the floors, and extra wireless access points were added to account for the higher density of people in the office.
Adam Pellittieri notes how easy it was working with UB’s Human Resources group. “HR is a very agreeable group of people. They were thrilled about getting a new space, and, if anything, we had to push them to ask for more from their collaboration spaces.
“We said to them, ‘let’s make this the best possible place to work.”
Once the project completed in late 2020, the Field Services division of UBIT Customer Service, led by Samuel Gura and Chris Serafini, took the HR team on a walkthrough of their new home, preparing for the move and answering any questions. The goal was to have everything up and running on day one.
“From what I understand, everything worked seamlessly,” said Leslie Evans. “We’re keeping in contact and standing by to help them with whatever they need.”
Fostering collaboration and delivering excellent customer service are cornerstones of UBIT’s operations. Have a project you need help with? Visit our UBIT Help Center Online, or call 716-645-3542, to find out how we can help.