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Renovation of Powdermaker Hall to be Celebrated in April 23 Dedication Ceremony
Contact: Maria Terrone
Director of Communications
(718) 997-5591
Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5590


Media Advisory For:
Friday, April 23, 10 AM


FLUSHING, NY – April 8, 2004 – The recently completed, $69 million renovation and “reimagining” of Queens College’s Powdermaker Hall as a wired-to-the-hilt, light-filled learning environment will be celebrated in a dedication and ribbon-cutting on Friday, April 23 at 10 a.m.

The dedication, to be held on Powdermaker’s front steps, will be followed by a reception with refreshments and self-guided tours of the building, including classroom demonstrations.

Speaking at the ceremony will be Queens College graduate and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (class of 1972); Queens College president James Muyskens; Deans Donald Scott (Social Sciences) and Penny Hammrich (Education), whose academic divisions are housed in Powdermaker Hall; and Tim Duffy, president of the Day Student Association.

The 214,000 square foot building, named after pioneering Queens College anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker, has been the main classroom building on campus since its construction in the early 1960s. However, its glass and metal “curtainwall” construction, common at the time, had become environmentally inefficient, and the classroom and office designs were inadequate for the college’s current needs. The lack of central air-conditioning and soundproofing also made the building obsolete.

Construction on the new Powdermaker began in February 2000; the renovated building reopened in time for the fall 2003 semester.

“The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York provided us with the funds for this vital project, and the result is a model of efficient, functional space that is also aesthetically exciting,” says President Muyskens. “I am also very pleased that our students are enjoying the benefits and convenience of the latest educational technology in Powdermaker, and a dozen lounges where they can meet and work.”

Instead of completely tearing down the original structure and starting over, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, led by architect Paul Broches, stripped the building to its concrete frame and rebuilt in Powdermaker’s original footprints. The interior spaces were completely reconfigured; stairs and shafts were added to provide necessary mechanical services; classrooms were resized and reconfigured to meet 21st century pedagogic needs; and offices were both refurbished and newly created for the departments that occupy the new Powdermaker. “It appears and functions as a completely new building,” says architect Broches.

“Our requirement was a building design that looked to the future while respecting the architecture of both the contemporary and the earlier buildings on the quad,” says Queens College architect Robert Landsman, “some of which go back to when this site was home to the New York Parental School for Boys.” This included renovating the three-story exterior to feature a two-story base with punched openings, topped by a line of recessed, attic-type windows with a strong horizontal eave. These changes give the large building a more human scale and create a friendly visual relationship with the historic buildings nearby.

The renovated building includes 29 media-ready classrooms for 55 to 70 students with ceiling-installed data projectors, Internet access, and sound systems; five computer labs; 13 seminar/conference rooms, including one with a digital display unit allowing integrated multimedia projection and multi-site meeting capability; student lounges; offices and work spaces for 11 academic departments; and offices of the deans of Education and Social Sciences.

All mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems have been replaced and a new exterior “skin” ensures comfortable interior temperatures and quiet classrooms. Triple-glazed windows mean that speakers no longer have to stop mid-sentence when planes fly overhead. In addition, landscape architect Tom Balsley has created two exterior courtyards between sections of the building that contain birches, native grasses and granite sculpture.

DASNY funds have made possible three artwork projects commissioned specifically for Powdermaker Hall. Christian Philipp Müller’s “Spice Up,” site-specific artwork for three student lounges, was installed last fall. The work reflects the ethnic diversity of Queens College students by incorporating enlarged photos of international spices and food staples into the space and furniture design. Ready for the April 23 dedication will be artist Julie Ault’s “Points of Entry,” quotations about learning and education wall-mounted at 12 building entrances. The intriguing quotes are by such diverse figures as John Dewey, James Baldwin, bell hooks, Michel Foucault, Emily Dickinson and others. The final art installation will take place in early fall: 18 photographs, some over six feet long, of contemporary Queens scenes taken by Joel Sternfeld and Frank Gohlke.

“CUNY students deserve the very best in education, and that includes the physical environment in which they learn,” says President Muyskens. “Powdermaker Hall’s successful transformation speaks to the city, state and the college’s continued commitment to our students, who are the future of New York.”

Also expected to attend the dedication will be state and city elected officials, representatives of other CUNY colleges, Maryanne Gridley of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and Emma Macari, CUNY Vice Chancellor of Facilities, Design and Construction.


 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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