Jackson house to be razed

In an e-mail to the campus community on February 25, Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds announced new updates to the plans for the president’s house. Following the recent meeting of the Troy Zoning Board of Appeals where a request for variance to the residential zone maximum height limitation was denied, Rounds expects that a newly revised site plan will be considered at the Troy Planning and Zoning Board hearing meeting on March 11.

The original site plan involved keeping the original building as a guest house and constructing a new building to serve as the president’s residence and for entertaining. In this plan, the location of the new building lies in the city’s R1 Zoning district, which limits the maximum building height to 24 feet. The new site plan calls for using the footprint of the current house which, being located in the City’s Institutional Zoning District, can have a building up to 50 feet tall.

In considering alternatives to the original design, Rounds stated that “We determined that the best location for the new house was essentially the same footprint and same location on the parcel as the existing president’s house.” The new building will be two stories high and have approximately 9,600 square feet of living space. While the size of the residential space is about the same as in the old building, Rounds stated that “… the difference between the area of the current house and … the new house is really the additional program space that is being added to facilitate increased use of the home and residence for Rensselaer activities and Rensselaer events involving faculty and student receptions, dinners, visits from donors and dignitaries.”

Pending approval by the Troy Zoning Board at their upcoming meeting, Rounds plans to start construction once requirements for a building permit are satisfied. Due to the bedrock underneath the existing structure, Rounds expects that blasting of the rocks will be required to facilitate excavation for a new basement and stated that the work will be in compliance with City of Troy requirements and standards for the procedure.

Although plans are still in the development stage, Rounds expressed that “… it is certainly the intent to incorporate sustainable design features into the house.” Temporary housing for President Shirley Ann Jackson has not yet been determined.