SUNY Fredonia’s Kessler receives AIA Moynihan Award

Markus Kessler with Kimberly Conant, left, SUCF Regional Director for Design; and Anne Garrity, SUCF Director of Project Management, following the awards presentation.

Markus Kessler, who has shepherded approximately 120 State University of New York at Fredonia construction projects having a combined value of over $430 million, has received the 2024 Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award, one of three Professional Awards conferred by AIA (American Institute of Architects) New York State.

The award recognizes public officials or individuals who further the public’s awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence in public architecture. The SUNY Construction Fund (SUCF) nominated Kessler for the award he received in Albany on May 9.

For more than two decades, Kessler has provided direction, assistance and recommendations on capital, residential and renovation projects at all stages of development and construction.

As Director of Facilities Planning, Kessler is responsible for the oversight of facilities planning of the campus and ensuring that any facilities work aligns with the vision of I.M. Pei and Partners, the renowned architect firm of Fredonia’s Campus Master Plan that was completed in the late 1960s.

Major construction projects in that plan include Maytum Hall, Williams [Campus] Center, Daniel Reed Library, McEwen Hall and Houghton Hall, as well as several residence hall complexes.

“Markus is passionate about building design and facilities – and he has the ability to make it fascinating for your average lay person,” commented Vice Provost Judith Horowitz, who supported Kessler’s nomination for the Moynihan Award. She has worked on several major projects with Kessler, and both serve on the campus’ Space Management Committee.

“Perhaps the most relevant observation that I, as a non-architect, can offer the (AIA) selection committee is the observation that Markus willingly and capably serves a role on campus rather than having a job on campus. These are markedly different things,” Dr. Horowitz noted.

“Markus approaches facilities, space and architectural projects with an eye to detail and with his ‘Fredonia eye.’ Will this work here? Does this make sense with our architecture? Will it make sense to the Fredonia faculty and staff in 50 years?”

Kessler’s career at SUNY Fredonia that spans nearly a quarter-century began when he was named Assistant Facilities Planner in 1999. He was promoted to the new position of Director of Facilities Planning two years later and to the Senior Staff Associate level in 2004. Kessler has an Associates in Applied Science – Civil Technology from Erie Community College, and Bachelor of Professional Studies – Architecture and Master of Architecture degrees, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Kessler has the deep respect of many on campus for his dedication, his congeniality and his willingness to take on – and very often lead – projects with the capacity to forever change the fingerprint of the institution, Horowitz remarked.

Projects currently underway by Facilities Planning staff include a multi-year redesign of the interior of Reed Library, redesign of Jewett Hall into a student services center, and repurposing of an historic home on the edge of the campus as a family support center to serve the local community.

“With some 20 projects currently in various stages of development, this is shaping up to be one of the busiest periods in the history of the Facilities Planning department. This is the greatest number of projects that we’ve had at once. We’ve done fewer projects with larger budgets, but this is the first time that Facilities Planning has taken on such a large number of projects at one time,” Kessler said.

Major projects that Kessler has been involved with include the Steele Hall Natatorium, Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall, University Commons, Houghton Hall rehabilitation, SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator, Campus and Community Children’s Center, the Dods Hall fitness center, University Village Townhouses, the Science Center, and the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center Studio Annex and rehabilitation.

He’s also worked on campus-wide upgrades of electrical, water and gas distribution systems, replacement of residence hall exterior windows and bleachers in the Steele Hall ice rink and fieldhouse and installation of a campus-wide satellite boiler system.

Values of these and other projects Kessler has worked on range from $25,000 to $50 million.

For more than 22 years, Kessler has been invited twice a year by Alfred State’s Architecture and Design Department to review and evaluate student final project presentations within its Bachelor of Architecture program.

Kessler received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in 2016, a SUNY-wide award, and the campus’ Outstanding Administrative Service Award for Professional Service in 2009. Kessler is a New York State Code Enforcement official and has been the campus Code Compliance Manager for the last 22 years.

The SUNY Construction Fund is a public benefit corporation formed in 1962 to act as an agent for SUNY to design, construct, acquire and improve SUNY’s state-operated building and infrastructure assets on its campuses and teaching hospitals.

Moynihan, an American scholar and Democratic Party politician, is perhaps best known as a four-term U.S. Senator in New York.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1977, Moynihan served as counselor to the President for Urban Affairs. As chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, he expanded awareness of the effects of the environment and public infrastructure on communities.


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