OSWEGO — One of the largest renovations at SUNY Oswego in recent decades broke ground recently and college administrators celebrated the project that will look to augment the former Hewitt Union into the new Hewitt Hall.
SUNY leaders from throughout the state, SUNY Oswego staff, students, local leaders and others gathered Oct. 1 to announce the start of the $80 million project transforming the union into a state-of-the-art facility and soon-to-be new home to SUNY Oswego’s School of Communication Media and the Arts (SCMA).
The project is anticipated to be completed in 2023.
The SUNY Oswego SCMA involves the school’s film, media, journalism, design, visual and performing arts, public relations, and communications programs, according to college officials.
SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said the facility, once finished, will provide students with improved opportunities. The new facility will include: an updated and “prominent” television studio, updated video and media production equipment, collaborative learning spaces, a virtual-reality studio, a two-floor ballroom, a screening room and more.
“Hewitt Hall will be the destination for exploring the production and design for communication media and the arts by providing world-class digital technology facilities,” Stanley said.
Stanley said the project is part of a nearly $850 million, decades-long campus renewal program improving the college and students’ quality of life.
Included in that renewal program was the environmentally designated LEED Gold Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation; the revitalization and modernization of Tyler Hall; The Village — a townhouse residential complex on campus; and renovations to Wilber Hall, according to college officials.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said the project would help teach students how to navigate the media landscape and provide them with opportunities to improve upon and add to their “world-class educations.”
“Now more than ever we need more students to enter into communications and media to express beauty and creativity through new visual art mediums, which is what is going to happen at this state-of-the-art-facility,” Malatras said.
Hewitt Union opened in 1967 and for several decades housed the college’s student organizations until the Marano Campus Center opened in 2006, according to college officials.
Buffalo-based architect firm CannonDesign was selected earlier this year to design the building, while DiPasquale Construction and Turner Construction will both be the project contractors — adding roughly 440 construction jobs to the local economy, a part of the project Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, highlighted.
“(This is) not only great for the campus, but this is also great for the community. It’s going to add (a lot of jobs) and that’s great for the local economy,” Barclay said of the “critical” project. “We all know the world is becoming more and more technologically driven and the college experience must provide students with the proper tools ... and this project is going to make SUNY Oswego SCMA the most technologically advanced, modern, facility in the nation for communication, cinema and graphic design.”
Stanley, who announced her retirement at SUNY Oswego earlier this year, said this project was not only important to the college, but to her as well.
She said conversations about renovating Hewitt started in roughly 1990, but at the time college officials moved the project and shifted their focus and pushing the project back.
Throughout the building’s longevity, she said the space has been a “surge” space — filling the need for offices and other purposes — while other projects happened, but now it was time to for the college to realign its focus on Hewitt, she said.
“For me, it is really fitting that the first project on the docket was Hewitt and we moved it, but now, the last project on my docket is Hewitt,” Stanley said. “I am thrilled to see this transformative project moving forward and for the generations of students, staff and faculty who will benefit from the new Hewitt Hall.”