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Throwback Thursday: First Impressions

At top, much was left to be done on Sept. 23, 1965, as seen from the roof of the not-yet-completed University Library : the Carillon Tower is but a ground-level circle of metal, the north side of the Podium consists of foundations, areas for basement floors, Lecture Centers and the tunnel, to the east are the first floors of the Fine Arts and Earth Sciences buildings, but at right a completed Biology Building (there is as yet no PAC, nor, to the downtown horizon, an Empire State Plaza). Below, on May 24, 1966, from a completed Library roof, we see the Administration (now Arts & Sciences) Building under construction, a completed Fine Arts Building to the right, but in the background no Collins Circle or State Quad. The current administration building and Entry Plaza would not arrive until the 2000s. (Photos by E.M. Weil, courtesy of University Archives)

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 16, 2017) — It was estimated that more than 270,000 cubic yards of concrete was needed to construct the original Uptown Campus between fall of 1963 through 1969. Most of that concrete, along with some 50 miles of copper tubing, was put in place between 1964 - 66.

University at Albany Construction 1966

By March of 1966, progress was evident looking eastward from Podium level in front of the Library. The Carillon Tower was mostly finished. The Fine Arts and Earth Science & Mathematics buildings to the left were up, as were the Physics and Chemistry buildings, seen on the right. The steel frame of the Performing Arts Center can be seen in front of Biology. But the Lecture Centers and Main Fountain had a long way to go.

Fortunately, a photographer named E.M. Weil was on site at various times between 1964-68 to chronicle the size of the undertaking and the progress being made — despite tough winters, winds that churned up fierce walls of sand ("It is the only place where I ever saw a snowstorm and a dust storm at the same time," said one project manager), work-delaying shortages of key crafts and a few labor work stoppages.

Dutch Quad was the first set of buildings open for business, in early 1965, but the students had no classes to walk to. The Academic Podium wasn't occupied for another three semesters, opening in part in the fall of 1966. They had to shuttle from uptown to the Downtown Campus.

The Biology Building was among the first academic facilities to be ready, as can be seen in the Weil photos provided. The Administration Building (now Arts & Sciences) only began housing administrators in the fall of 1967. By early 1969 all, save Mohawk Tower and some lecture centers, were open.

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