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Bright Future Evolving for Clarkson University's Downtown Potsdam Campus

With installation of cyclone fencing this week around Clarkson University’s Old Main, University President Tony Collins used the opportunity to speak about renovations to the historic building in downtown Potsdam and the institution’s active investment in the future of its downtown campus -- including its ongoing commitment to the economic health of the North Country.

Clarkson University’s Old MainThe now completed first phase of Clarkson's downtown redevelopment saw renovation of Clarkson Hall for Health Professions programs (Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies), renovation of Peyton Hall as a business incubator for Clarkson's Shipley Center for Innovation, and development of business space for the community in Lewis House.

The next part of Clarkson's evolution of its Downtown Campus starts next week with major renovations to the historic Old Main building, which will house the North Country’s first green data center using IBM technologies and research facilities for the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a subsidiary of Clarkson University.

Clarkson will offer server colocation space in Old Main to other local, regional and national higher education, research and commercial customers. This colocation facility will provide local access to a world-class server hosting facility at reasonable rates. (For more information on this initiative, visit

Clarkson also plans next month to request proposals to develop the Congdon House residence hall (across the street from Old Main) and the third and fourth floors of Downtown Snell Hall (adjacent to Congdon) as housing with a focus on residences for graduate and post-doc students, and possibly transitional housing for faculty and staff.

The Regional Arts and Interactive Learning Project (RAIL), an innovative collaboration between the St Lawrence County Arts Council (SLCAC) and the North Country Children’s Museum (NCCM), is slated to occupy 35,000 square feet in Downtown Snell Hall, establishing the first mixed-use venue providing cultural arts enrichment and interactive learning experiences to residents of the North Country. Current plans call for the first phase (planning and construction) to get underway in January with completion by January 2016.

Artists business incubators, a changing gallery exhibition, professionally equipped art studios and STEAM K-12 interactive learning spaces will provide the foundation for arts, culture and education opportunities. Distance learning programs presented through RAIL’s virtual learning resource center will feature business development classes for entrepreneurs/startups; grant-writing courses; STEAM K-12 interactive learning assembly workshops; virtual art show tours; a live ‘meet the artist’ series; and arts instruction.

Clarkson's Shipley Center for Innovation is in the process of negotiating a large Series A investment from a corporation, which would locate its headquarters in Damon Hall (adjacent to Peyton Hall).The Shipley Center accelerates the commercialization of emerging technologies

Collins also announced that Clarkson's Munter Trails, a two-mile trail system along the Raquette River near Clarkson's canoe house, will soon connect with downtown Potsdam at Maple St. Final permissions for land use are underway and plans are for construction to commence soon after. The Munter Trails provide the community with spectacular views of Fall Island and convenient access to the Raquette River, while enhancing an overall sense of connection with the river.

Plans are also underway for renovation of the former Liberal Studies building on Pierrepont Ave. into additional educational facilities for the Health Professions programs. A search is underway for a chairperson of a new Department of Occupational Therapy, which will house a Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. When the program is fully underway, the Liberal Studies building space will be needed to expand Health Professions laboratory and classroom space.

About Old Main

An architectural jewel and prominent showpiece of Potsdam Sandstone, the facade of Old Main remains largely intact to its original design, while the interior reflects the typical ebb and flow of educational program and technology adaptations over the years.

Renovation plans for Old Main, therefore, call for an adaptive reuse of the structure. Green technologies will be incorporated throughout, as well as deployment of solid engineering practices to support sustainability such as high-efficiency boilers and air-handling equipment with energy recovery, increased insulation in walls and ceilings, energy-efficient windows, modern sealants on the building shell, high-efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors with day lighting features to control lights, low VOC paints and adhesives, and general features that contribute to a healthy work environment.

As part of the Green Data Center’s functionality, IBM and Clarkson staff have planned a design that captures the waste heat from the servers and uses it to naturally heat the facility. In contrast to large traditional data centers, the footprint of the state-of-the-art data center at Clarkson uses existing space with minimal modifications.

As part of State funds previously awarded to Beacon Institute for development of its research facilities and program, Clarkson will renovate Old Main to further advance the REON sensor platform capabilities and locate the accompanying data center to analyze the massive amounts of environmental data captured in real time with remote telemetry in New York waterways.

About The Shipley Center for Innovation

The Shipley Center, which accelerates the commercialization of emerging technologies, has developed the "Clarkson Model for Commercialization," which focuses on proactively working with innovators and entrepreneurs to identify ideas, conduct feasibility analyses, and build a commercialization plan to bring new technologies to market.

This model has received recognition from the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship as a best-demonstrated practice and has directly resulted in the creation of 57 start-ups since inception in October 2010 with a pipeline of 150-plus additional projects currently under management. The center maintains a robust support infrastructure, which includes rapid prototyping, incubation space, market research, branding, intellectual property strategy, and a network of investors.  

The Peyton Hall Incubator was re-launched in July 2011 after a complete refurbishment of the space and now offers four wet labs, 13,000 square feet of office space, two fully furnished conference rooms, and in-house services that include rapid prototyping, Web design/development, and staffing.  

The incubator currently has 23 businesses in residence representing 74 percent occupancy. These businesses range in technology and focus, as well as in geographic location of origin with businesses moving into the incubator from Syracuse, Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and the state of Washington.

Clarkson University pays full Village, Town, School and County Property taxes totaling nearly $200,000 on all space that is rented or leased to businesses and on all J.R. Weston properties like the Clarkson Inn and University Bookstore.
About Clarkson University

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: File photo of Old Main.

[A photograph for media use is available at .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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