View of State University
Plaza looking south
An interior view of SUNY
Plaza during renovation
A grotesque perched
on the South Tower
In 1948, the State University Trustees made the first staff appointments to Central Administration, and they were housed in three rooms of the State Education Building, located on Washington Avenue. A year later, they moved to the Capitol. The University then acquired properties at 7, 8, 9 and 10 Thurlow Terrace, near Albany's Washington Park. From 1958-72 Central's staff expanded, and a number of additional facilities were rented throughout the city. It was at this time that a strong need to house all parts of Central Administration in one place was recognized, and SUNY Central moved to Twin Towers (located on Washington Avenue) in March of 1972. After many searches for a permanent location during the period 1964-1972, in November of 1972 the University announced its intention to acquire a permanent home at what is now State University Plaza.
SUNY acquired the D & H and Albany Evening Journal buildings in 1973, and renovation began that same year. The Federal Building was acquired in 1977, and renovations began shortly thereafter. William A. Hall Associates from New York City was engaged as the architect for the renovation.
After being vacant for several years, the interiors of the buildings were in terrible condition and had to be completely stripped of all partitions, stairwells and elevator shafts. All mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and the interior were completely redesigned to meet the needs of SUNY. All exteriors were carefully reconstructed; exterior walls were all re-pointed and cleaned, missing pre-cast ornaments were painstakingly recast from the originals and replaced. The weathervane was dismantled and brought down the elevator shaft for its own cleaning and refurbishing. The arcade area on the first floor of the D & H Building was originally open and housed space for individual businesses; during renovation it was fitted with glass to optimize space possibilities and provide an area for a gallery. In 1978, Chancellor and Mrs. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. announced that they would live in the south tower of the Plaza, the same area where William Barnes had his apartment.
The total renovation cost for SUNY Plaza was just over $15,000,000; SUNY's move into the Plaza began in March of 1978.
The purchase and renovation of the D & H and Albany Evening Journal buildings, as well as the U.S. Customs House and Post Office, allowed SUNY to consolidate its Central Administration and also permitted an architectural masterpiece to be saved as well as reused efficiently at a minimal cost to the taxpayer. Since SUNY needed an office facility anyway, the alternative would have been to build a new complex in a less convenient location. Renovating this plaza was also a positive step in rehabilitating a then-deteriorating area in downtown Albany.
In 1979 William Hall Associates was presented the top Owens Corning Energy Conservation Award in the government category for their renovation of SUNY Plaza.
The D & H and Albany Evening Journal Buildings together are 630 feet long and 48 feet wide and provide approximately 200,000 square feet. The former U.S. Customs House and Post Office provides about 60,000 square feet of office space.