Key renovations throughout the RIT Campus

College of Art and Design

Renovations to Gannett Hall will include a new student lounge, featuring collaborative workspaces and the addition of windows looking out to the south balcony.

The extensive renovation of RIT’s College of Art and Design—with keen focuses on key areas within the internationally recognized School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) and School of Film and Animation—made significant strides in 2021.

The vast project is part of a five-year masterplan to renovate, rejuvenate, and transform spaces to meet the growing demands for a college that serves as RIT’s creative hub at the intersection of technology, art, and design.

The expansion and reconfiguration of SPAS facilities was made possible with a $3.5 million gift to the school in 2019 by Chance Wright ’18 (advertising photography), ’19 (MBA), and his mother, Pamela Mars Wright—the largest single gift ever made to the college.

The gift is part of Transforming RIT: The Campaign for Greatness, RIT’s $1 billion fundraising effort, the largest in university history. The blended campaign seeks support from a variety of investors, including alumni and friends, government and corporate partners, and research foundations and agencies.

The transformative work inside Gannett Hall includes the addition of multiple collaborative student spaces and workspaces.

“The College of Art and Design is fortunate to be located at the central hub of RIT’s campus on Kodak Quad in Booth and Gannett halls,” said Todd Jokl, the college’s dean.

“These new spaces, along with MAGIC Spell Studios and the forthcoming SHED (Student Hall for Exploration and Development) position us as one of the most dynamic institutions in the world working with AR/VR, games, entertainment and technology, photography, and imaging, digital, and physical design,” Jokl added.

With the renovation’s additional spaces dedicated to moving media, sound capture, and 4D processes, the college is rising to meet both the established and emerging curricular and industry-based needs of today’s students, according to Christye Sisson, who became the new school director of SPAS last summer.

Some of the renovation plan’s key areas included the expansion of RIT’s photo equipment “cage”—stocked full of the latest gear for RIT students and without peer in other photography programs—and an open and inviting new lounge for students and teams to work, study, and collaborate.

While work impacted the analog darkroom spaces, Sisson wanted to reassure alumni and others “that the new space is honoring our roots in analog photography while also looking forward to new ways that photography is approached and applied today.”

“Analog photography classes are as popular as ever, thanks to both the increase in interest in the darkroom and to the implementation of a photography minor,” she noted.

“Specific to the curriculum, the new digital photo lab is a state-of-the art work and teaching space designed both for demonstration as well as group work and critique. The ’moving media’ lab contains high-performance machines optimized for rendering video, integrated CGI, as well as AR/VR applications,” Sisson observed.

“And the broadcast quality audio room is meeting the needs of our programs to integrate sound into multimedia and still imaging narratives,” she concluded.

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Gifts make Saunders College expansion possible

RIT’s Saunders College of Business will break ground on the expansion and renovation of Max Lowenthal Hall this fall. Designed by LaBella Associates, the renovations will almost double the size of Saunders College.

RIT business students can expect major changes to Max Lowenthal Hall, home of Saunders College of Business, after the completion of a more than $19 million expansion and renovation project in fall 2023.

The new design, which will nearly double the building’s footprint, will offer cutting-edge teaching and learning spaces, opportunities for innovative research, and venues for collaborative work.

This project would not have been possible without transformational gifts from Saunders College alumni and friends.

Donors E. Philip Saunders; Chance Wright ’18 (advertising photography), ’19 (MBA); Susan Riedman Holliday ’85 (MBA); the late Klaus Gueldenpfennig ’74 MS (electrical engineering), ’77 (MBA); Brigitte Gueldenpfennig ’81 (MBA); and Dinah Gueldenpfennig Weisberg ’97 MS (software development and management), ’03 (EMBA) collectively committed nearly $12 million toward the project. Additional funds were awarded by New York state’s Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program. 

The new building will feature student team rooms, applied research and case analysis labs, an event space and reception hall, state-of-the-art auditorium, a café, an executive MBA and executive education suite, a wine room in support of hospitality and service innovation programs, and outdoor spaces with expansive views of campus.

Existing classrooms will also be renovated in support of innovative and student-centered pedagogy.   

“As a top 100 business school, and top five undergraduate business school in New York state, this expansion and renovation will bring us to the next level and significantly enrich the learning and research environment,” said Saunders College Dean Jacqueline Mozrall. “This project will further enhance interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial collaborations and expand our ability to engage with the Rochester community and beyond.”

Originally designed by Robert Macon, Max Lowenthal Hall was constructed in the late 1970s. The new design by LaBella Associates seeks to honor the architectural language of the existing building, while reinterpreting materials to present them in a more modern way.

This expansion and renovation come at a time when Saunders College is experiencing a boost in enrollment. The college experienced record enrollment of first-year undergraduate and executive MBA students in the fall 2021 semester.

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Research Lab Facilities

The RIT campus continues to grow and change with new building construction and renovations underway. Brown Hall will be renovated into laboratory space for several colleges this fall.

Brown Hall will get a face-lift as it becomes a new location for several science and engineering research laboratories. Work is expected to begin on the redesign of the building, on the west side of campus, which previously housed offices of RIT’s Division of Marketing and Communications and several classrooms.

The proposed plan and design is expected to cost $6 million, funding attained through New York state and matched by RIT. Renovations will include a laboratory that forms the College of Science’s Genomics Center, two laboratories for the College of Science’s School of Chemistry and Materials Science, five labs for Kate Gleason College of Engineering’s computer engineering department, and one for the College of Engineering Technology’s traffic studies laboratory. Additional resources will include offices and meeting spaces.

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