Culminating a six-month design competition, Syracuse University today announced SHoP Architects, a world-renowned architect firm headquartered in New York City, has been selected to conceptualize and design the new National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC). The NVRC, a first-of-its-kind multi-use facility, is among the most transformative initiatives contained within the University’s Campus Framework, a draft of which was shared with the University community yesterday.
The NVRC will serve as a class-leading exemplar of academic, government and community collaboration and will build upon and advance the University’s already strong national leadership in the veterans’ community.
“Today represents another significant step in our efforts to be the best place in America for veterans,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “The NVRC is a physical testament to Syracuse University’s commitment to supporting veterans and their families throughout our history, and into our future. It will serve as a lasting reminder of the important role our service men and women play in our society. I am grateful to the members of the Selection Committee for their tireless efforts on behalf of the University and want to thank them for their commitment to identifying the right design partner for this critically important project.”
The NVRC is a key pillar of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council’s winning proposal titled “Central New York: Rising from the Ground Up.” The CNY proposal was one of three selected to receive $500 million as part of Gov. Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI). The NVRC will serve as the enduring home of the University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), which has served more than 48,000 veterans and military families. The NVRC will offer state-of-the-art vocational and educational programs designed to advance the economic success of the region’s and the nation’s veterans and military families.
“The design and construction of the NVRC is perhaps the most symbolic example of Syracuse University’s commitment to serving, supporting and empowering those men and women who have served the nation in uniform,” says J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor of veteran and military affairs. “The NVRC will build upon and solidify the University’s ongoing leadership in research and programming connected to the veteran and military sectors. As a member of the Selection Committee, I am confident we have identified the ideal design partner for this initiative, and I look forward to seeing SHoP bring this innovative and bold concept to life.”
Steven L. Einhorn ’64, ’67, Syracuse University Trustee, Chair of the Campus Framework Advisory Group and School of Architecture Advisory Board Member, says the NVRC will play a transformative role in providing educational access to veterans and their families. He says the NVRC is one of the boldest and most innovative initiatives contained within the Campus Framework. “The NVRC is an incredibly exciting and cutting-edge project. As an alumnus, it makes me proud that the University and the Campus Framework Advisory Group have identified the NVRC as a near-term project. Its geographic position on campus combined with the significant role veterans’ issues play in the Academic Strategic Plan makes this an exceptional out-of-the-gate project,” Einhorn says.
SHoP Architects, founded by Kimberly Holden, Gregg Pasquarelli, Christopher Sharples, Coren Sharples and William Sharples, has a wealth of experience designing buildings in a variety of settings. SHoP spearheaded the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, designed the miles-long East River Waterfront Esplanade in Lower Manhattan and is responsible for the design of the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone. SHoP is also a finalist among an elite group of architect firms vying for the opportunity to design the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago.
“Everyone at SHoP is enormously proud to be given this opportunity to create a true home for veterans at Syracuse University, a building that will work hand in hand to support the important work of the IVMF and the other groups that will reside there,” Christopher Sharples says.
“The programmatic demands on this building, its historic symbolism for the University, and the gateway role it will play on the campus,” adds William Sharples, “dictate a very high level of performance in its design—a building that is at once inviting to all and a specialized tool perfectly suited for the specific work that will take place there.”
Representatives from SHoP will now collaborate with University leaders to refine the design plans to further align them with the Campus Framework’s architectural vision. Tentatively planned for the western portion of the Waverly block on the Syracuse University campus, the NVRC will house the Syracuse University and Regional Student Veteran Resource Center; the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps; the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “Vet-Success on Campus”; the National Center of Excellence for Veteran Business Ownership; Veteran Business Outreach Center and Accelerator; and Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. The NVRC is tentatively scheduled for completion in the spring of 2019.
The NVRC will include classroom spaces to accommodate local and national veteran-focused programming. It will also house a conference center and a roughly 1,000-seat auditorium, which will be available for use by the whole campus and fills a critical space void. The conference center and auditorium will host community activities, lectures and national convening events and conferences. The facility is also expected to include gallery space exhibiting the University’s storied legacy of serving America’s veterans. Designed as a LEED-certified facility and constructed in accordance with universal design practices, the NVRC will be an inclusive facility that welcomes and accommodates veterans and visitors with disabilities.
The design competition, which began in December 2015, was facilitated by Martha Thorne, dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid. In consultation with Thorne, the NVRC Selection Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, students and design professionals, selected SHoP following a diligent and meticulous design competition that included the world’s foremost architecture firms.
Along with Vice Chancellor Haynie and Trustee Einhorn, the following campus community members participated in the selection process: Andria Costello Staniec, associate provost for academic programs; Julia E. Czerniak, associate dean of the School of Architecture; Jared Grace, graduate student in the School of Architecture and Army ROTC cadet battalion commander; Breagin K. Riley, assistant professor of marketing in the Whitman School of Management; Peter Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer; and Michael A. Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture.
SHoP is an award-winning architecture firm with a staff of over 180 talented architects, designers and engineers. Since 1996, SHoP has harnessed the power of diverse expertise in the design of buildings and environments that improve the quality of public life. An inclusive, open-minded process allows SHoP to effectively address a broad range of issues in their work: from novel programmatic concepts, to next-generation fabrication and delivery techniques, to beautifully crafted spaces that precisely suit their functions. Twenty years ago, the principals set out to prove that intelligent, evocative architecture can be made with real-world constraints. Today the firm is realizing that promise in innovative buildings around the world.