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Hinds Hall renovations win AIA CNY design award

The School of Information Studies’ new home in Hinds Hall received a 2008 American Institute of Architects Central New York Chapter Citation Award for the redesign and renovations conducted by Ashley McGraw Architects of Syracuse. 

In announcing the award, the judges said: “Working within the constraints of an existing structure, the design has not only enlivened the interiors of this building but is also expressive of the program that is accommodated within this building.” 

Working closely with iSchool leadership and J.D. Taylor Construction of Syracuse, Ashley McGraw Architects transformed the 53-year-old building into a sleek, modern space that supports an open exchange of ideas and information. Natural wood and earthy red accents balance the exposed infrastructure, brushed aluminum window frames, and steel accessories, much like the iSchool’s curriculum blends technological training with an understanding of human needs and behaviors. 

“We love our new home in Hinds Hall, and are grateful for the expertise and talent of Ashley McGraw Architects,” says iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. “The design team did an amazing job of capturing the essence of the iSchool and ensuring that the building supports harmonious collaborations and group work. This award-winning building is a very suitable home for our top-ranked programs and world-class faculty and students. We are proud to call this our home.”

“We were excited to be part of the iSchool family and help them express who they are in the building,” says project manager Krista Hannacker, RA, LEED AP. “We want visitors to see and experience the story of the school in the architecture and finishes of the building.” 

The University broke ground on the renovations in summer 2003, and the completed renovations were celebrated at the School of Information Studies’ iOpening on May 10, 2008. The building is the former home of the L.C. College of Engineering and Computer Science and offices of the University’s Information Technology Services department. Today, it is used solely to house the School of Information Studies.

One of the more dramatic changes to the building was the conversion of a three-story, high bay area that had been used by engineering faculty to test the strength of concrete beams into a bright, airy student lounge with a spiral staircase and a café. This space now provides a picturesque view of University Avenue.

Designers at Ashley McGraw Architects developed floor plans that took into account everything from the practical needs of the school and budget concerns to “green” construction and Feng Shui, the intangible energy of a place. The architects drew on sustainable materials and natural lighting to contribute to the iSchool’s aspirations to make a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and society.

The design team decided because the iSchool’s identity was so strong, they wanted the building itself to tell the story of the school. The infrastructure was opened up to reveal how the building functions, including server rooms surrounded by glass. The mixture of warm woods and rich browns and reds with aluminum and silver colors reflect the iSchool’s warm family-like atmosphere and their “techie” nature.

Each of the building’s four floors contains approximately 12,000 square feet that will have a variety of uses. Key features of the refurbished structure include enhancements to the main entrance on the western side of the building. Situated across from the colorful Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti mosaic mural, the western main entrance opens into a gallery which bends via a hallway to a lobby at the far end of the building.

The first floor contains a large student services suite, with such offices as student records and academic counseling, the building’s premier technology classrooms, the IT Services suite, and the Center for Digital Literacy. The second and third floors house most of the faculty and administrative offices, the dean’s suite, collaborative rooms, and most of the school’s sponsored research centers. The ground floor features the student lounge, a study area, classrooms, an innovation studio, and several computer labs.

Syracuse University School of Architecture alumnus Edward McGraw ’84 is chief executive officer at Ashley McGraw, a Syracuse-based architectural and interior design firm specializing in educational and institutional projects. Ashley McGraw has more than 35 years of experience in the field and strives toward innovative and inspirational designs. They are also committed to being environmentally friendly in their work, and most of their staff is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited under the U.S. Green Building Council’s program.

The Syracuse University School of Information Studies is ranked No. 1 in the nation for information systems, second in digital libraries, third in library and information studies, and fourth in school media. It is a nationally ranked center for innovative programs in information policy, information behavior, information management, information systems, information technology, and information services. The school offers an undergraduate degree, certificates of advanced studies, three professional master’s degree programs, a Doctorate of Professional Studies, and a Ph.D. The School of Information Studies was established in 1896 as the School of Library Science and is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). For more information, visit the school’s web site at  

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