A Perfect Union

Restoration of a campus centerpiece to celebrate Union College's bicentennial.

Union College Nott Memorial

Union College
Schenectady, New York

Built in 1879, the Nott Memorial, a National Historic Landmark, stands as a symbol of Union College and is the centerpiece of campus. The unique, Victorian inspired structure is one of the few 16-sided buildings in the world. Finegold Alexander directed the building’s first comprehensive interior and exterior restoration. Working with campus leadership, Finegold Alexander programmed the reuse of the building as a gathering/lecture space, an exhibit gallery, and student study center. Interior work included installation of an elevator and other accessibility upgrades, new egress stair, and custom AV and lighting systems. Exterior work included major structural remediation, cleaning and repair of masonry, reinstallation of slate roofing, and the restoration of 280 stained glass windows which bathe the interior in colored light.  

(Photo credit: Hero and thumbnail photos of Nott Memorial by Ron Cogswell on License information:; First two photos in lightbox by Matthew H. Wade on, License information: )

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18,000 SF
Historic Preservation, Adaptive Reuse, Renovation
Lecture Hall, Exhibit Gallery, Reading Room
1996 National Trust for Historic Preservation, Honor Award
1996 AIA New England Regional Council, Honors Award
1995 BSA Honors Award for Design Excellence
1995 Capital District Masonry Institute, Mark of Excellence Award
In the news
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Project EUI
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Envisioned as a central campus rotunda in 1813, the 18,000-sq-ft building ultimately emerged as a memorial to early Union President Eliphalet Nott, who in 1858 commissioned architect Edward Tuckerman Porter, his grandson, to resurrect long-dormant plans for the structure.
Building Design & Construction, October 1995
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Due to the large number of missing or damaged slate tiles, the dome was stripped down to its fluted metal deck. A watertight membrane was added to the structure, which was then rebuilt with new components that precisely match the originals in color and pattern.

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“The day is short, the work is great, the reward is much, the Lord is urgent.”
On the lower portion of the dome is a band of red slates bearing this modified Hebrew inscription from the Talmud.