SUNY System Administration Building
Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company Building
West elevation and central tower, 2011
|Location:||The Plaza on State St., Albany, New York|
|Architect:||Marcus T. Reynolds|
|Governing body:||State University of New York|
|Part of:||Downtown Albany Historic District (#80002579)|
|Added to NRHP:||March 16, 1972|
The SUNY System Administration Building, formerly the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Building, is a public office building located at the intersection of Broadway and State Street in downtown Albany, New York. Locally the building and land it sits on is referred to as State University Plaza, or the D&H Plaza; prior to the construction of the Empire State Plaza it was simply "The Plaza". It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 as Delaware and Hudson Railroad Company Building. In 1980, when the Downtown Albany Historic District was listed on the Register, it was included as a contributing property.
The central tower is thirteen stories high and is capped by an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) working weathervane that is a replica of Henry Hudson's Half Moon. The State University of New York is centrally administered from this location. The southern tower's four top floors are the official residence of the Chancellor of SUNY.
The building and the land it sits on itself has a varied history. The building sits at the foot of State Street along Broadway, in the oldest part of the city. It was here that several of Albany's earliest city halls sat, along with the New York State Legislature in the 18th century. The Albany Plan of Union in 1754, presided over by Ben Franklin, was held here. This land was once along the Hudson River's banks, over time being infilled, including in 1911 as part of the construction of the Plaza. The city of Albany purchased and consolidated the land ownership that allowed the D&H to build the building and the city to have a park in front surrounded by a street that acted as a loop for the trolleys running on State Street. Public access was allowed to the Hudson River through the central tower and by way of an underground tunnel to the other side of the D&H tracks. The design by Marcus T. Reynolds was based on the Nieuwerk annex of the Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium.
Originally for this site Reynolds envisioned a triangular park at the termination of State Street with a large L-shaped pier that would go north for three city blocks that would also support another park with a bandshell and docks for yachts and boats. That design would have cost $1 million and was opposed by neighborhood groups as too expensive and grand a design, along with the problems of the railroad traffic. The idea of opening up the view of the waterfront to the public was considered unfeasible and undesirable as the river was full of commercial docks, wharves, warehouses, and railroads. A plan initiated by the Albany Chamber of Commerce (later published under the name of Stvdies for Albany) decided upon a public park as a plaza surrounded by buildings that would screen the locomotive smoke, obnoxious odors and sights of the working waterfront from the vista of State Street.
The D&H Railroad used the building as their corporate headquarters; the southern part of the building, which was built later than the main building in 1916-18, housed the Albany Evening Journal newspaper. William Barnes, editor of Evening Journal had a lavish apartment on the upper floors. In 1924 the paper was sold to the Albany Times Union and the building became home to various other businesses including the predecessor to the New York State Department of Transportation.
After the D&H and Evening Journal both abandoned the building it sat dormant until November 1972 when the State University of New York (SUNY) announced it would purchase the building as its first permanent home, having occupied One Commerce Plaza as a temporary home since March of that year. SUNY purchased the building in 1973 and construction began that year. The offices were moved into in 1978. That same year SUNY Chancellor Clifton Wharton, Jr. decided that the southern tower would house the chancellor's apartment. The total renovation of the Plaza cost $15 million. In 1977 the neighboring Federal Building was purchased and added to the State University Plaza. William Hall Associates won the top Owens Corning Energy Conservation Award in the government category for their work in the renovation.
From north to south the building consisted of at least six sections. When first built the building had an undecorated warehouse directly behind the old Federal Building built of reinforced concrete. South of where the warehouse stood begins the current structure, beginning with a square tower with four corner turrets. A 5-story tall "arm" diagonally connects the north tower with the 13-story tall central tower. Those sections were built first, in 1914-5. The building was too small for all the D&H employees and so another "arm" was built south of the tower terminating at another square tower with corner turrets to house the offices of the Albany Evening Journal. When finally finished in 1918 the building was 660 feet (200 m) long. Today, without the warehouse, the Plaza is 630 feet (190 m) long and 48 feet (15 m) wide. The Plaza has approximately 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of office space, with the former Federal Building providing an additional 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2).
Though the building is in the Gothic architectural style the building sports several touches that tie the building into the Dutch heritage of Albany. The central tower sports an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) weathervane that is in the shape of Henry Hudson's ship the Half Moon while the gables of the entire building bear the coat-of-arms of prominent Dutch families including that of Albany's first mayor, Pieter Schuyler. Other non-gothic elements include the names and dates of prominent printers on the Albany Evening Journal building, including William Caxton 1487, the father of English printing.
Other Albany skyscrapers include:
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Don Rittner (2000). Albany. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 25–8. ISBN 0-7385-0088-7. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- Gary Sheffer (July 15, 1987). "State Street's Growth Continues 5 of 7 Vacant Buildings Scheduled for New Life as 17-Floor Tower Starts". Albany Knickerbocker News. p. 10A. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- "Steve's Railroad Pages". Steve Sconfienza. 2004. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Champion Map Corporation (1971). Map of Albany Troy, Colonie, Rensselaer and Cohoes New York (Map).
- Arnold Brunner and Charles Lay (1914). Stvdies for Albany. p. 29. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- Arnold Brunner and Charles Lay (1914). Stvdies for Albany. pp. 30–31. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- "State University Plaza". The State University of New York. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- Ray Mark Rinaldi (March 19, 1994). "Visions of a Visionary Albany Institute Exhibit Honors an Architect Who Helped Shape the Capital City". Albany Times Union. p. D1. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
- "Plaza History: The Albany Evening Journal". The State University of New York. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- "Plaza History:Renovation". The State University of New York. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
- "Caution at comptroller's building". Albany Times Union. July 27, 2009.
- Eugene J. Johnson. "State Street Stories: The Delaware & Hudson and Albany Evening Journal Buildings". University Art Museum, University at Albany (SUNY).
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