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New York State Education Building
Albany, New York
Collins + Scoville Architects

A monument to education is carefully restored

© Craig Dugan/
Hedrich Blessing

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

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Originally designed to house the New York State library and museum, this 1912 Beaux Arts masterpiece was built to symbolize New York's commitment to education. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this block-long imposing structure with a colonnade of 36 giant pillars was considered the greatest achievement of architect Henry Hornbostel. After the library and museum were moved from the building in the 1970s, four major projects were undertaken to retrofit the building to accommodate offices for the state's education department. The multi-tiered metal book stacks, which occupied about 25 percent of the total floor area, were demolished and new mezzanines were built to provide additional office areas.

The second floor is at the heart of the building and contains its most important public space—a central rotunda, which rises to a leaded-glass dome more than 90 feet above. Overlooked by the third and fifth floors, glass barrel-vaulted corridors radiate in three directions. Of particular note is the spectacular Guastavino-vaulted reading room to the north of the rotunda, modeled after Labrouste's Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

Microscopic analysis of the walls and ceilings permitted restoration of the original decorative color schemes in the libraries, and original lighting fixtures were restored using energy efficient lamping. The most challenging aspect of the project was inserting modern HVAC, electrical, communications, and plumbing systems into the historic spaces—a feat complicated by the presence of significant amounts of asbestos—both in pipe insulation and in the building's plaster.

Building systems are invisible and a sound masking system provides for speech privacy in large open spaces. New carpet tile was installed throughout the open areas to enable the use of under-carpet wiring. Coupled with the wire management capabilities of the modular office furniture, the end result is a state-of-the-art office environment within these spectacular historic rooms.

Formal name of Project:
New York State Education Building

Albany, N. Y.

Gross square footage:
75,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:
$9 million

New York State

New York State Education Department

Collins + Scoville Architects, P.C.
40 Beaver Street
Albany, New York 12207-1511


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