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In the Region | Westchester
Published: March 25, 2007
Rendering by Ikon.5
for the College of New Rochelle
Photo of Leland Castle by Alan Zale for The New York Times
STONE FACED The designs of the new wellness center
and the castle, below, now an administrative building at the College of
New Rochelle, are very different, though both use granite quarried near
Fitting in on
By ELSA BRENNER
SINCE 1904, when a group of Ursuline nuns
moved into a fortresslike mansion on the south side of this city to
begin New York state’s first Catholic
college for women, all of the campus’s buildings have been clad in
Like the other structures on the 20-acre campus of the College of New
Rochelle, the newest building — a 55,000-square-foot $28 million health
and recreation center scheduled to be completed later this year — is
being faced with granite from an area near Lake Champlain on the New
But unlike most of the older structures here, which are neo-Gothic
collegiate in style, the latest addition has a distinctly modernistic
flavor, featuring a two-story glass lobby and architectural concrete
a wall along a garden.
And it is described as environmentally sound, in keeping with current
national standards for green buildings. The building has six skylights
rising up through a rooftop garden over a competition-length pool and
tournament-sized gymnasium, with bleachers to seat 1,000 spectators;
they admit natural
light and reduce heating costs.
Recycled glass has been mixed into the concrete used for the pool,
consuming less concrete and taking advantage of glass that would
end up in a landfill.
The building also has a heat recovery system to recycle energy, so
that warm air, instead of being discharged from the building, is run
through a system of pipes to warm the water in the pool.
But in keeping with the past and with the spiritual underpinnings of
the college, which began with 12 students and now has an enrollment of
6,500, the wellness center is designed to be a place for mental and
as well as physical growth.
In addition to two classrooms, a seminar room and workout areas, the
new building has a 600-square-foot mediation room that can also be used
for yoga and Pilates, and the roof garden has an outdoor chapel
overlooking what is said to be one of the largest copper beech trees in
“The architecture is prompted by a belief that it takes more than just
sweat to promote total wellness,” said Joseph G. Tattoni, a design
principal for Ikon.5 Architects of Princeton, N.J., the firm in charge
of the project. “This is a Catholic institution, and there’s the issue
of the soul.”
Mr. Tattoni described the new two-story center as “a paradisiacal kind
of place.” He said: “Years ago, it would have been just a recreation
center. Today, we’re calling buildings like this holistic wellness
Recently, Ikon.5 Architects designed a $10 million 15,000-square-foot
student center at the State University of New York in New Paltz and a
$6 million 22,000-square-foot public library in New Castle, Del. Both
also use green technology.
At the College of New Rochelle, the pool was placed underground to
reduce the profile of the new structure in the surrounding
which consists of mostly two-story single-family homes and some midrise
The roof garden over the pool wing, at grade level, will consist of
five feet of high-drainage topsoil augmented with slag and shale to
reduce runoff, Mr. Tattoni said. Because the site of the pool and its
garden overhead was formerly a parking lot, the new construction will
add more permeable surfaces to the campus, he explained.
...the granite on all of the buildings is of the
same stock used for the college’s initial home, Leland Castle, which
soaring turret and crenelated roof line. It was acquired for $35,000 at
the turn of the 20th century.
The 8,000-square-foot former residence, which has been designated a
National Historical Site, is these days used for the college’s
administrative offices and as an art gallery. It was designed by the
New York architect William Thomas Beers during the late 1850s for
Simeon Leland, a hotel entrepreneur who used it initially as a summer
home and then year round until 1880.
Before being acquired from a subsequent owner, the building had been
as a hotel, a boarding school and a hunting club.
Now a cluster of 20 classroom buildings, the main campus serves as
the home base for the college. There are five other locations: Co-op
in the Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, downtown Manhattan,
and the South Bronx.
The college consists of the all-women’s School of Arts and Sciences,
and three coeducational schools: the School of New Resources (for
students 21 and over); the School of Nursing; and the Graduate School,
which offers degrees in several programs, including communications.
Only 10 percent of the students are in their teens and 20s; 90 percent
are adults returning to school, said Stephen J. Sweeny, the president.
As for the stone facades on all the main campus buildings, Dr. Sweeny
conceded that granite... is not the most economical way to go.
During the Depression, when the College of New Rochelle’s library was
built, architects used more mortar and less stone because of economic
constraints. In retrospect, that may have been shortsighted, since the
joints on that building have since been resealed to correct water
The costs for the newest building are being covered by a larger capital
campaign begun in 2003. Of the $28 million, $4.3 million is a state
grant for capital projects at private and public colleges and
universities, and $1 million comes from a federal grant. Corporations
and foundations have pledged $350,000, said Judy Huntington, the chief
financial officer for the college. The remainder is private donations.
Dorothy Larkin, an associate professor and the coordinator of the
college’s master’s program in nursing, said the Wellness Center would
become a hub where students would learn about disease prevention and
stress management. “A healthy campus is the function of the
curriculum,” she said.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Catholic college for women in New York State, The College of New
Rochelle was founded
in 1904 by the Ursuline Order. Today, it comprises the all-women School
Arts & Sciences, and three schools which admit women and men: the
of New Resources (for adult learners), the School of Nursing and the
School. The main campus of the College is located in lower
County, 16 miles north of New York City. The College maintains
other campus locations in New York City. Visit the College’s website at