Albion Academy revitalization wins AIA recognition

Published on Thursday, June 25, 2009 in  WIVB

The Albion Academy Apartments & Community Space in Albion, New York was recently selected for special recognition by the Rochester Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, as part of their annual Design Excellence Awards. This historically sensitive revitalization of a neglected and aging school building into modern apartments for seniors won Recognition for Urban Building Re-use. The award will be presented at the AIA Rochester ceremony on June 27 at the George Eastman House.

Revitalization and historic preservation may not be typically associated with senior living, but it is at the Albion Academy. The Academy, built in 1906, was neglected and could have been torn down. But rather than demolish this aging building, the development team saw its potential for a new type of housing - one that features the beauty of the past, while providing the modern comforts our seniors deserve.

PathStone Corporation (formerly Rural Opportunities, Inc.) reclaimed the aging building and determined that senior housing was to be the best primary use for the Academy. The Orleans County Office for the Aging and the Arc of Orleans County will also use space in the Academy to serve their populations and local residents.

Maximizing historic preservation was a goal of the development team. The four-story, 55,000 square foot structure has several unique architectural details that are being preserved and utilized in the rehabilitation. Due to years of neglect, extensive renovation was required. The restoration was coordinated with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Mira Mejibovsky, AIA, Senior Project Architect of Passero Associates, says, “It has been both a pleasure and a challenge to save the many historical elements of this building. We found some creative design solutions which have resulted in an extraordinary project.”

The Academy was constructed using grey Medina sandstone, which has been repaired. The grand main entrance features refinished wood wainscoting and stamped tin ceilings. Corinthian columns have been restored and relocated from the auditorium to the community room. The existing grand staircase, original moldings and elaborate wood trim found throughout the building have been restored or replicated.

Modern apartments are carved out of what were previously classrooms and the auditorium. They feature high stamped tin ceilings, with plenty of light and air. The apartments have been laid out to utilize the original window openings. New high-quality insulated windows match the style and profile of the historic windows. The original classroom doors were left in place as decorative elements.

Passero Associates provided complete architectural and engineering design services. Nathaniel General Contractors served as general contractor, providing design-build and construction services. The total cost of the project is about $7 million. More information is available at www.passero.com/AlbionAcademy.htm.


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