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Monroe Community College's Downtown Campus

case study

LaBella Associates assisted Monroe County with evaluating the feasibility of several urban sites for Monroe Community College’s new downtown campus.  Following the selection and purchase of an existing office building, LaBella was selected to design the renovation of 250,000 sf, over seven floors, into a dynamic academic campus.

The resulting design is has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects for design excellence and the American Council of Engineering Companies awarded it Project of the Year in New York State.  The project also exceeded its sustainability goals by achieving LEED Gold certification.

PHASE I: Infrastructure separation and abatement

The project was broken into two phases.  Infrastructure separation from adjoining/adjacent office building comprised the first phase, along with hazardous materials abatement and demolition.  The second phase comprised shell and envelope improvements, and interior fit out.

The existing office building selected for the Downtown Campus actually comprised four connected buildings, part of the 1,634,400 square feet, ten building complex that was Kodak World Headquarters.  LaBella was tasked with separating all utilities from the rest of the complex, with the exception of steam and chilled water, which would be metered.

Demolition and abatement design was also performed by LaBella, which was significant given the age of the buildings and the desire to reuse as much infrastructure as possible to save project budget for program.  Infrastructure reuse was a hurdle for our LEED team, but ultimately solved.

PHASE iI: the learning environment

The program for the campus includes admissions, registration, financial aid, a learning commons, classroom and faculty office space, and an event space. 

The design was carefully developed to provide optimum learning environment flexibility, while contending with an existing column grid and floor-to-floor heights which were originally intended for an office environment.  The massive volume of space also required careful consideration for wayfinding, with several departments vying to be easily accessible on the first floor.

The design team’s solution was the create a central campus “spine”, which provides a central lobby and circulation amongst the first three floors of the building, creating a dynamic public space and cross-functional social hub.  

Campus spine

With tough floor-to-floor heights and a tight column grid, the campus spine effectively opened the interior space. creating a public zone and campus hub.

Learning Commons


The 15,000 SF Academic Learning Center is comprised of the Learning Commons, which focuses on independent study,  and Integrated Learning Center, which is focused on tutoring and student / faculty interaction.  Physically located at the center of the campus, this space is the academic and student hub. The center combines library, computer lab and tutoring/collaboration space, indicative of the pedagogy-driven design approach throughout the campus

learning commons

From private study to group meeting space, the learning commons gives downtown campus students flexibility in learning spaces.



Collaboratories (designed for —you guessed it — collaboration) on every floor create a social space where creativity can thrive. The informal learning spaces provide a casual, comfortable, and versatile environment for working on assignments, brainstorming on the white boards, or just drinking coffee.


Collision space and cross-functional collaboration are more than just buzz words - they are essential to delivering a campus experience that online educators can't match.

leed and sustainability

achieving leed gold


State University of New York standards set a goal of LEED Silver for the downtown campus.  Ultimately, the design team was able to achieve LEED Gold certification, which was a significant achievement given that most of the building envelope and mechanical systems were reused.  A sustainability case study will be available soon, but here are a few of the ways the campus embraced sustainable design practices:

  • approximately 94% of construction debris was recycled

  • a green education program was created for the building

  • water consumption was reduced by 40% compared to a baseline building

  • energy costs were reduced by 25% compared to pre-renovation use

green roof


Three areas of green roof were installed at Monroe Community College’s Downtown Campus. At almost 22,000 square feet, the roof system is capable of capturing 13,000 gallons of rain water during a single rain event. That’s the equivalent of a large backyard above ground swimming pool!


The green roof system reduces campus storm water pollution and helps protect our local waterways by minimizing building run-off. Succulent and sedum plants are rooted in four inches of growing medium.  The growing medium sits atop filter fabric, a drainage layer, a root barrier, a roofing membrane and a leak detection grid.


While serving to manage storm water, the green roofs will also help to reduce the building’s heat island effect and increase the thermal efficiency of the roof insulation. They also offer enhanced aesthetics to the campus community – over 50% of the green roof area will be viewable by the building occupants and all are viewable from the neighboring Kodak tower.