Syracuse University Launches Design Competition for National Veterans Resource Complex, Announces Members of Selection Committee

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Today, Syracuse University announced the launch of an international design competition aimed at identifying a world-class partner to conceptualize, design, and construct the new National Veterans Resource Complex (NVRC). The NVRC is a first-of-its kind facility in the United States and will leverage a public-private sector partnership model to advance academic research, programming, and community-connected innovation serving the social, economic, and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and families. The NVRC will build upon and advance Syracuse University’s already strong national leadership in the veterans’ community, and serve as a class-leading exemplar of academic, government, and community collaboration.

The NVRC is a key pillar of the Central New York (CNY) Regional Economic Development Council’s winning proposal titled “Central New York: Rising from the Ground Up.” The CNY proposal was one of three selected to receive $500 million as part of Governor Cuomo’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI). Under the Governor’s leadership, this initiative has made an unprecedented level of funding available to Central New York and regions across upstate to create new jobs and new opportunity.

Chancellor Kent Syverud, who serves as co-chair of the CNY Regional Economic Development Council, says the URI award will revolutionize the region’s economic trajectory.

“I want to extend my deep gratitude to Governor Cuomo for his confidence in the proposal we submitted and for his ongoing partnership in supporting veterans and their families,” says Chancellor Syverud. “The NVRC will serve as the center of veteran life on the campus of Syracuse University, in the local community, and across Central New York.  We look forward to receiving proposals from architecture firms who share our vision for the future of this facility and collaborating with the winning firm to bring this idea to life.”

To facilitate the design competition, Syracuse University has asked Martha Thorne, dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid, to lead the search for the University’s design partner.

Thorne, who also serves as the executive director of the Pritzker Prize—the architecture equivalent to the Nobel Prize, will collaborate with the NVRC Design Selection Committee, to invite 30 of the world’s leading architecture firms to submit their qualifications to be considered for the architectural, landscape, and engineering design of the NVRC.

To ensure all perspectives are represented, the selection committee is comprised of faculty, staff, students, and design professionals. The members of the committee are Andria Costello Staniec, Associate Provost for Academic Programs; Julia E. Czerniak, Associate Dean of the School of Architecture; Steven L. Einhorn ’64, ’67, Syracuse University Trustee and School of Architecture Advisory Board Member; Jared Grace, graduate student in the School of Architecture and Army ROTC Cadet Battalion Commander; J. Michael Haynie, Vice Chancellor, Veterans and Military Affairs and Executive Director, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF); Breagin K. Riley, Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Whitman School of Management; Peter Sala, Vice President and Chief Campus Facilities Officer; and Michael A. Speaks, Dean, School of Architecture.

“By using this type of selection process, Syracuse University will be better able to select the most appropriate firm for this commission, based on both the strength of the firm and their design approach for this exciting new facility,” says Thorne. “I am privileged to have been invited by the University to facilitate this process.”

The NVRC, a truly multi-use facility will serve as the enduring home of IVMF, the nation’s leading academic institute focused on the concerns of America’s 22.8 million veterans and families. Additionally, the NVRC will house state-of-the-art vocational and educational programs designed to advance the economic opportunity of the nation’s veterans and military families, as well as seed the conditions for future growth and new employment opportunities for the region and the more than 206,000 veterans and military-connected families who call CNY home.

“The NVRC will represent yet another chapter in the long-running story of Syracuse University’s commitment to serve, support, and empower those men and women who have served the nation in uniform,” says Vice Chancellor Haynie. “This new facility will serve as both a practical means by which Syracuse University can contribute its expertise and intellectual capacity to serve America’s veterans and their families, and at the same time represent a means to honor the historical legacy of Syracuse University and its WWII Chancellor William Tolley—who welcomed more than 10,000 post-WWII veterans to campus, and by doing so transformed the University into the dynamic, national research institution we know today.”

“Not only will the NVRC play a transformative role in providing educational access to veterans and their families, but its strategic location will play a pivotal and transformative campus planning role in achieving Syracuse University’s master planning goal of creating and reinforcing a dynamic campus-city community,” says Einhorn.

The NVRC is tentatively planned for the western portion of Waverly block on the Syracuse University campus. It will also house the Syracuse University and Regional Student Veteran Resource Center; the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps; the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Vet-Success on Campus’; the National Center of Excellence for Veteran Business Ownership; Veteran Business Outreach Center and Accelerator; and Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. The NVRC will include classroom spaces to accommodate local and national veteran-focused programming, along with a conference center and 1,000-seat auditorium suitable to host community activities, lectures, and national convening events and conferences.

“The NVRC is an innovative building complex that will help to distinguish Syracuse University as a national leader on veterans issues,” says Speaks. “As such, the NVRC will set a new standard on and off our campus and will require the talents of the very best architects working in the world today. I am confident that Martha will guide our selection committee through an evaluation process that will enable us to select the best architects to design and build this one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime building project.”

The facility is also expected to include gallery space exhibiting the University’s storied legacy of serving America’s veterans. The gallery will also serve as a venue to highlight present-day exhibitions of art, culture, and performance relevant to the veterans’ community. Designed as a LEED-certified facility and constructed in accordance with Universal Design practices, the NVRC will be an inclusive facility that welcomes and accommodates veterans and visitors with disabilities.

“I applaud Syracuse University and Governor Cuomo for their commitment to supporting our Nation’s current veterans and transitioning service members as they embark on the next phase of their lives,” said General David D. McKiernan, USA, Ret. “Providing education, opportunity and a place where our Nation’s warfighters can build upon the skills they received during service is critical to sustaining our all-volunteer force. I look forward to monitoring the progress of the National Veterans Resource Complex as it reaches fruition.”

Upon receiving qualifications from the 30 firms, the selection committee will invite a smaller group of firms to submit design proposals. The first round of firms will be selected and notified by mid-January 2016.

Finalists will be then be invited to visit the site and speak with campus representatives about the history, goals, vision, and timeline for the new facility. On April 11, 2016, the finalists will hand in materials related to their basic design for the project. They will appear on campus to present their proposals to the Selection Committee in late April 2016. The winning proposal and firm will be announced in May 2016.

For more information on the project, to submit ideas, and to ask questions, visit NVRC.syr.edu. Ongoing updates regarding the project’s progress will be posted there regularly throughout the design competition process.