Greiner Hall Wins Award for America’s Best Building of the Year

IDeA Center worked with Cannon Design to integrate innovative accessibility features

Jin Young Song with Hyundai E&C CEO.

William R. Greiner Hall, a residential hall on UB's North Campus, includes design features that make it accessible for students with a much wider range of physical and cognitive abilities than traditional residence halls can typically accommodate. Credit: Douglas Levere

Published November 18, 2013


The University at Buffalo's William R. Greiner Hall has won the grand prize for new construction from BUILDINGS magazine’s eighth-annual America’s Best Buildings of the Year (ABBY), a contest for commercial and institutional facilities.  

A residential hall for sophomores on the university’s North Campus, Greiner Hall creates a new standard for student living in Buffalo and beyond, said Don Erb, director of residential facilities at UB. He said the building provides an eco-friendly and mentally stimulating environment where students can live, learn and thrive.

Among the building's design innovations is its accessibility to students with a much wider range of physical and cognitive abilities than traditional residence halls can typically accommodate. The School of Architecture and Planning's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) worked with Cannon Design to integrate features such as roll-in showers that wheelchair users can access easily, and ground level entrances that allow residents to enter without the use of stairs or ramps. The IDeA Center's work on the project was led by Danise Levine, architect and assistant director of the IDeA Center. 

ABBY award-winners “exemplify innovative performance standards for renovation and new construction projects including: energy efficiency; streamlined facility operations; sustainability measures; forward-looking designs; purposeful renovation; and community engagement,” according to the magazine.

Read a recent article in BUILDINGS Magazine about how Greiner Hall promotes accessibility

Greiner Hall has also been noted for its green design features. Many structural components, including flooring, wall paneling and counters, were developed from rapidly renewable resources. Ninety percent of the interior, which hosts student housing, offices and classrooms, is bathed in natural light.

Erb said Greiner Hall is also being recognized for the community collaboration and input that went into its innovative design. In addition to the IDeA Center, UB's Campus Living and University Facilities Planning and Design worked with Cannon Design to develop the building and open it for the fall semester of 2011 in memory of UB’s 13th president.

Another university building, the UB-Kaleida Health facility on the Downtown Campus, also won a merit award in the same category. The latter edifice houses Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute and UB’s Clinical Translational Research Center (CTRC).

Erb said Greiner Hall and the CTRC exemplify the goals of UB’s Physical Plan, part of the UB 2020 strategic plan, which calls for developing facilities to support the growth of research and improve the student experience in state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, libraries, dining halls, dormitories and recreational facilities. Dean Robert Shibley oversaw development of UB's Physical Plan and is guiding its implementation today as UB's campus architect.

UB has also received a variety of awards for innovative and eco-friendly facilities. The CTRC, along with Greiner Hall and Davis Hall on UB’s North Campus, are certified gold under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Kapoor Hall, on UB’s South Campus, is certified silver under LEED.