Hayes Hall Restoration Enters Final Phase

Exterior restoration enters its final stages

Exterior enhancements to Hayes Hall include complete refenestration, a new slate roof, flagstone repointing, bronze entryways and an architecturally integrated front access path, designed by the school’s very own Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. Photo by Douglas McCallum (BPS '94)

Published February 21, 2015

School of Architecture and Planning prepares for a 2016 return to its historic home

“The restoration of Hayes Hall will be our statement to the world about the School of Architecture and Planning’s commitment to sustainability, historic preservation, community, and state-of-the-art facilities for education in architecture and planning.”
Robert Shibley, Dean of the UBuffalo School of Architecture and Planning

It’s the first day of the fall 2014 semester. Faculty and students gather in the grassy quadrant between the Hayes Annexes on UB’s South Campus for the School of Architecture and Planning’s annual “Welcome Celebration.” A jazz trio strums, UB blue and white flags wave in the breeze and guests sip lemonade. The small patch of lawn also features a vegetable garden raised by urban planning students and Buffalo public schoolchildren; across the quad are four 20‐foot‐tall terra cotta towers erected by architecture students.

The scene is emblematic of how the School of Architecture and Planning has made the most of its temporary quarters (which include Diefendorf and Parker Halls as well as the infamous annexes) while its permanent home, the historic Hayes Hall, undergoes a complete restoration.

But the wait is almost over. Attendees needed only to look up, toward the towering structure behind them, for evidence of that. Construction workers set new slate tiles on the roof and removed the cupolas for offsite rehabilitation. The Hayes Hall clock tower, freshly painted, gleamed in the August sun. Addressing the crowd, Dean Robert Shibley made a Babe Ruth gesture to the iconic clock tower: “We’ve waited long enough, folks. By 2015, we’re going home.”

Indeed, excitement is building as the restoration, the first half of a $50.5 million capital project that moves next to Crosby Hall, enters its final phase and the fit‐out of the learning spaces inside. It’s the largest‐ever restoration of the circa 1870s landmark building and the first since the School of Architecture and Planning took occupancy in 1977. The School of Architecture and Planning is expected to return to Hayes Hall by late 2015.

The project combines a complete exterior restoration and a balance of historically preserved and reimagined interior spaces to create a flexible, interactive learning environment. The building will be brought up to code, while sustainable building practices and state‐ of‐the‐art environmental systems aim for LEED Gold certification. Once complete, Hayes Hall will feature the latest in technology, from digital signage and full‐wall projections of student work to comprehensive computing and a high‐capacity wireless network.

Hayes Hall gallery rendering


The Hayes Hall Gallery, a two-story atrium and gathering space, will serve as the school's front door. The removal of interior walls creates a bright, open and inviting space.

Minimalist design elements and a full-wall digital projection system will set a blank slate for the display of student and faculty work and an activated, impactful entry point.

Second floor living learning landscape will overlook the main gallery

Living-Learning Landscapes

Overlooking the first-floor gallery, the building’s main lounge and social space is designed to support informal academic exchanges and student gatherings. Adjacent to design studios and in direct view of the full-wall digital display, the space will be continuously activated by academic and social interactions.

The fourth floor is bathed with natural light with the introduction of new skylights.
This rendering depicts the fourth floor as it would appear when finished.

Reclaiming the Fourth Floor

Exposed wooden trusses, hardwood flooring and skylights provide a bright awakening to the reclaimed fourth-floor attic spaces, which will host studios and critiques. A large auditorium-style classroom on the fourth floor will host lectures and events. 

The fourth floor signature and event space is NEW space being created on the fourth floor of Hayes Hall

Signature Lecture and Event Space

The original three-story Hayes Hall auditorium will be converted into a two-story, 150-seat event hall and lecture space. 13 third-story fenestrations, which had been walled up for decades, have been restored to bathe the space in natural light. The preservation of the curvilinear ceiling and arched windows will maintain the space’s architectural grandeur.

After abatement, Hayes Hall's history was exposed through its brick work

Stewards of Sustainability

The Hayes Hall restoration has targeted LEED Gold Certification. Sustainable design solutions include the extensive use of daylighting, high-efficiency windows, state-of- the-art mechanical systems, natural ventilation and the selection of durable materials and finishes, including reclaimed wood and products made within a 500-mile radius.

Exposed brickwork in Hayes hall
Old meets new as Hayes Hall is nearing completion

Exposing History

The interior has been stripped completely, exposing all construction elements throughout the building's history. Old will meet new as exposed structural systems abut the historical fabric of Hayes Hall. The project team has worked closely with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation throughout the project. Other preserved details include the front entry’s marble flooring and hardwood trim, Hayes Hall’s grand open stairwells and iron railings and arched window moldings. Brass inlays will demarcate where the building’s original walls once stood.