The New Gannett Student Health Center

31 01 2014


Copy of the proposal, including description, renderings, and all the other bells and whistles here. Note that this isn’t a total teardown and replacement, but an addition onto the previous building. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of a large, curved structure on what is current Gannett’s parking lot. The feeder road to Willard Straight will stay in place, going under the new addition, and the ambulance bays will also be located here.


Note how it says Levels 1 and 2. The elevation changes allow for a partial below-grade section under the main level that connects with Ho Plaza’s walkway. Above the road will be three levels of offices and exam rooms, with a mechanical penthouse on top of the new structure. So 4/5 floors, depending on your viewpoint.

Although it looks like some of the original structure will be preserved, it gets a major facadectomy. Larger windows and and a more “contemporary” entrance will be built on the Ho Plaza side. About the only similarity to the current structure is the use of Llenroc stone for the outline.


The current entrance gets replaced with a two-story addition (shown on the right), and the 70s addition also gets a revised facade (but remains mostly intact).


Probably my biggest complaint is the subtle multi-hued glass panels. It looks cheesy. My armchair critic says to stick with one panel color, ideally the a neutral grey/smoke tone. Other than that, it’s standard Cornell fare for the 2010s – a hypermodern glassy box, with the use of stone to try and harmonize it with the surrounding plaza and structures. The architect of record is local architecture/alumni-filled firm Chiang O’Brien.

As previously noted, the addition will add about 38,000 sq ft to Gannett, for a total of 96,000 sq ft. The projected cost is $55 million, and the target completion date is October 2017.


Yet Another Makeover for Statler Hall

16 12 2013


Another makeover is planned for a section of the Statler, this time the circa 1987 PoMo front entrance space. As noted by Ithaca Builds, the addition, at a cost of $2.4 million, calls for a modernized pop-out addition and entrance on the west face of Statler Hall (the side facing East Avenue) with new landscaping and pedestrian features. The project adds a relatively modest 1,619 sq ft to the Statler, with 319 sq ft on the first floor, and 1,300 sq ft on the second floor. The exhaustive summary of the project is included on their website here, with more renderings here. The timeline for construction is a short three months, May to August 2014.


This is the third renovation in the series, all by Philly-based KSS Architects. The first phase involved the construction of the Beck Center in 2004, which added 36,000 sq ft and renovated 16,000 sq ft on the east wing of Statler Hall. The second phase added 14,000 sq ft on the south face of the Statler, and was completed in 2010. Since the Hotel School is landlocked with little hope of re-purposing nearby property, the procedure with new structures always involves additions and renovations, rather than totally new buildings as we would see in other schools. The Statler was first built in 1949 on what was previously four homes of faculty row (at one point, a few dozen faculty had homes on Cornell campus, other examples include what was once Grove Place on what is now the Engineering Quad, and another cluster of homes where Savage-Kinzelberg Hall stands today). The auditorium was added to the south end in 1956, and further renovations were undertaken in 1959 and 1968. The hotel tower was added along with this front entrance in 1986/87. If history is any indicator, his will not be the last addition or renovation.

A Bigger Vet School

10 10 2013


I’ve only ever been in the vet school once, to deliver an invitation for a wine and cheese event to an alum of my fraternity house who worked as a researcher at the vet school.  When it came to getting photos, I would just take advantage of my Bradfield perch, take my photos, and that was that.

The vet school is not unlike the rest of the school in that it’s been built in spurts. The original vet school was in James Law Hall, where Ives Hall stands now (and even prior to that, it shared space in the north wing of Goldwin Smith Hall, the old dairy science building). The vet school moved further east with the construction of Schurman Hall in 1957, and expanded with the Vet Research Tower in 1974, the Vet Education Center and Vet Medical Center in 1993 and 1996, and the East Campus Research Facility and Vet Diagnostic Lab in 2006 and 2010 respectively.  Essentially, the vet school is like many human hospitals, a mish-mash of additions and new wings/buildings, incoherent and even incompatible. The completion of the the  VDL building left a large amount of vacant space in Schurman Hall that was difficult to repurpose, hence the approved plan – demolish 68,000 square feet of space, build 65,000 square feet of new space, and renovate 33,000 square feet of existing space, to be done in two phases with a combined cost of $63 million.

Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Given those stats, it seems like a misnomer to call it an expansion, but one of the effects of the reconstruction will be to increase the number of matriculating vet students in a year from 102 to 120 – and given Cornell’s #1 vet school ranking, they will not be lacking in applicants. Over four years, you have 72 more professional students – you’re welcome, Ithaca landlords. Among the details, the old auditorium will be torn down, and in its place comes the new Flower-Sprecher library, two new lecture halls, a new dining hall, large gathering spaces (i.e. yet another open atrium) offices, an expanded anatomy lab, and a green roof. The architects of this plan are New York-based Weiss/Mandfredi, who specialize in hypermodern glassy spaces.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.

As for the time frame, Phase I, which comprises the tear-down and new construction, will start in April 2014 and be completed in a 12-month time frame. Phase II, the renovation component, will commence at that time and proceed towards a tentative completion in October 2016. I will already be beyond my 5-year reunion, so that kinda freaks me out.

Straying a bit here, but I’ve heard from my vet school friends that the market isn’t absorbing new grads like it used to, and not at the salaries that it used to. A for-profit school planned for Buffalo was recently cancelled. But, I suppose for the #1 school, these are concerns that the college is reasonably shielded from. Adopting a dog in the next couple years is on my priorities list (if I can ever establish enough of a schedule that makes me feel like I’d have adequate time to love it), so in my totally uneducated opinion, more vets is fine by me.

Klarman Hall

16 02 2013
Image Property of Cornell University

Image Property of Cornell University

The Humanities Building has a name – Klarman Hall. The building is named for Seth Klarman ’79, a prominent hedge fund manager and large-scale investor in pro-Israel organizations. Considering the construction cost  is at least $61 million, Klarman probably put up at least half of that amount.

A part of me wonders if there’s any cruel humor to be had in an investment banker with strongly pro-Israel views funding a humanities building where most of the students who will walk through those doors will hold an adopted dislike of him (due to his strongly capitalist tendencies, and Israel being an easy target for disdain given the conflict with Palestine). For what it’s worth, Mr. Klarman does keep a very low profile, and is considered fairly conservative as investors go.

Klarman Hall, which I have previously shrugged off as a token glass box, is set for a construction launch this summer, with completion in 2015. The building is planned to be LEED Platinum with low-energy everything and living roofs, and is designed by Koetter, Kim and Associates, a Boston firm founded by Cornell alumni.

In a twist any cynic would enjoy, it was discovered a few years ago that Goldwin Smith, the professor and namesake of the hall Klarman will be contiguous with, was a virulent anti-Semite.

Exploring Milstein Hall

16 08 2011

So, fortunately for me, I’m not the only person out there who has an interest in Cornell construction projects. By good fortune, I happened to receive a series of emails from a newly minted Cornell graduate, “BB”, who took the time and opportunity to explore the nearly complete Milstein Hall and pass along some photos to this blog. For that I am thankful, as my trips to Ithaca have become fewer and further between. While I am glad for the photos, I’m still going to push the token disclaimers that I do not encourage or condone the exploration of unfinished buildings, due to a safety risk and legal concerns with trespassing. Also, while he is kind enough to share the photos here, they are his property, with all associated rights and privileges. I would encourage those that want to use his photos to contact him directly.

For those who wish they could answer nature’s call while on a spaceship…

They’re not even stalls. They’re more like bathroom pods.

I’m looking at this photo, and immediately, “The Imperial March” pops into my head.

Homecoming Construction Photos

29 09 2010

If I free up enough time between proctoring exams, I might write something more substantial. Until then, he are the physical highlights of Homecoming weekend.

The 197,000 sq ft Physical Sciences Building is nearly complete, with a soft opening planned for next month. Although still fenced, the landscaping is nearly completed. The glass isn’t as clear as the old renderings suggested, but otherwise it’s pretty faithful to the sketches.

Regarding work on Milstein Hall, a taste of what to come was shown with the installation of a small amount of glass on the northwest corner. Slightly greenish-blue in hue, which to me was slightly unexpected but not something I feel strongly about (I imagined a bluish tint if any at all). The 43,000 sq ft building is set to be complete by this time next year.

The Johnson’s addition is mostly underground, but some of the concrete work will build out to an above ground complimentary structure to the main building. It would appear that work has advanced quite a ways, with the rebar on the left indicating more pouring is yet to come for the east side of the 16,000 sq ft addition.

MVR North continues construction, though externally it hasn’t made too much progress in the past few months. The stone facade on the parking garage has been finished and work has been done on the exterior stairwells. The 87,000 sq ft building is set to be complete by the end of the winter.

(Bad) Sign of the Times

30 10 2008

This is going to take away a fairly large amount of my writing material…

Cornell announces hiring pause, construction moratorium
Moves in response to state budget news
October 30, 2008

 Cornell University is taking steps to prepare for blows to the budget, including a pause in hiring, a 90-day construction moratorium, and a university-wide review of all operations, Vice President for Communications Tommy Bruce said today.

The “pause” in hiring means no external applicants will be appointed to any open positions, according to a statement released by the university.

This is intended to provide slots for any employees who may be “dislocated in the near term” by funding cuts, and to find, through attrition, any positions that can be eliminated to minimize the need to lay off staff in the future.

Though a private university, Cornell operates four schools on the Ithaca campus established by the state and that receive public operating and construction funding. It is also New York’s land-grant institution and operates agricultural experiment stations in Ithaca and Geneva. Gov. David Paterson announced earlier in the week that the state faces a $1.5 billion budget gap for the current fiscal year and $12.5 billion for the fiscal year that starts April 1. About a fifth of state revenues are tied to the New York City financial industry.

Bruce emphasized that there will be no across-the-board cuts or layoffs, saying, “We have been having to deal with very real cuts coming from the state, and what we’re dealing with is loss of revenue in the wake of the Wall Street situation. What this means going forward is that we may be facing a situation in terms of reduced personnel. What we have to do at this point, not knowing the full impact of the current economic situation, is taking the precautionary step of pulling back on posting open positions and hiring externally.”

The hiring pause will be in effect until March 31 and applies only to non-professorial positions.

The 90-day construction pause will halt progress on any development project on which construction has not already started or which does not have a contract commitment on it.

Physical infrastructure, information technology capital investment, and local transportation and housing projects are included in the moratorium. Bruce said there will be a review of all projects to determine how to proceed most efficiently.

The university-wide review of operations will help the administration pinpoint areas that can be streamlined and where costs can be contained.

Bruce offered an example from his office, which produces more than 1,000 publications a year. These publications can be produced electronically, he said, saving the cost of paper and publication.

An electronic suggestion box has been set up at for members of the Cornell community to offer ideas.


City of Ithaca’s doing the same thing. The state’s severe defecits as a result of the crisis on Wall Street are finally hitting home…and it’s hitting hard.

My question is which projects that are not underway have a contract commitment. I suspect Milstein is largely safe, but the addition to the Johnson Museum is likely shelved.

News Tidbits 8/15- CU ERL Project

15 08 2008

So, I’m writing this as I’m sitting at a desk within the hotel; granted, I’m on the job, but it would help if I had more than one customer every forty-five minutes. It’s a bit of a running joke among Cornell Store employees that the Statler requires a dress shirt, tie and a really long book. Luckily, one of the few benefits to working the Statler Hotel gift shop over the main store is that we actually are permitted to browse the internet (with discretion).

So, doing as I often love to, I was perusing the planning board notes for the August 19, 2008 meeting of the Town of Ithaca planning board. And lo and behold, look what pops up:

8:00 P.M.        

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone.  The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and 2 km long), a cryogenic facility and associated electric substation (+/- 15,000 square foot footprint), and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space).  The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping.  Cornell University, Owner; Steve Beyers, P.E., Engineering Services Leader, Agent.

The other agenda items aren’t notable (a radio tower, continued discussion about the IC Athletic Complex, and the continued use of an equestrian facility).

So, the construction of 200,000 sq. ft of physical plant, a cryogenic facility and an accelerator tunnel require a bit of investigation.

The first thing I came across is this week-old Cornell Chronicle item. The particle accelerator has a planned timeframe of construction that would allow for the beginning of operations in 2011 [2].

Rather than try and explain the operations of the particle accelerator itself, I’m just going to quote the article (I’m excusing myself on the grounds that I study thermodynamics, not quantum physics).

The ERL would accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in a linear accelerator (linac) made of two straight tubes, each about 330 meters (0.2 miles) long, then feed them into the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, Hoffstaetter said. After a single rotation around the ring, the electrons would return to the linac, where their energy would be recovered and used to accelerate the next batch of electrons.

Meanwhile, at various points around the ring, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source would use the electrons to produce ultra-bright, ultra-fast pulsing X-ray beams capable of imaging structures just a few atoms wide, and whose oscillations would be resolved with sub-picosecond resolution (less than a millionth of one millionth of a second). [2]“

On another note, the building is visible in the master plan diagrams, as the large expansion that exists to the east of the current Wilson Lab structure:

So, our physical plant will continue to expand for some time yet.



Exploring West Campus

15 08 2008

First off, let me say I do not support nor condone any illegal activity, especially for the purpose of information gathering. That being said, going into prohibited construction sites is a lot of fun if you’re careful where you step and you can avoid the workers leaving for the evening.

So, this started when a friend of mine who happened to figure out that I was the writer of this blog sent me a message asking if I could go through the new West Campus and take some photos. Knowing he wasn’t in Ithaca, I decided that I would be happy to oblige this time  (but I certainly won’t be making it a habit).

Token War Memorial shot.

First off, the War Memorial. These photos are actually from my fraternity photo tour last month. The War Memorial was constructed from 1926 to 1931. It honors the 264 Cornellians who were killed in action in World War I. However, it does not honor a 265th death, that of Hans Wagner 1912, who was killed in action while fighting for the Axis Powers [1].

Noyes and Hans Bethe dining hall have grass roofs. Cornell, take note to not follow IC’s folly and set off fireworks right next to a building with a grass roof; it just might catch fire.

Any makeshift fence can be scaled. But why bother when there’s a narrow space between it and the wall?

Base of the War Memorial steps, being renovated.

A new central plaza area between House 5 and Bethe.

House 5, south face

Don’t mind my shadow.

Curious horizontal window slits near the entrance of House 5.

Nameplate, unfinished for now.

House 5 Dining area, NW corner

north face, house 5

House 5 dining area interior, unfinished

Keeton House, north face

Noyes, from Keeton

A corner plaza next to Keeton. Psi Upsilon is in the back.

A plaza/planting area just outside of Keeton.

Keeton’s connective corridor.

A staircase at Keeton that leads under the corridor.

A large blank wall next to the previously mentioned staircase.

Note the coloration of the glass in the connective corridor.

Keeton’s south wing. Notice how the top floor has a different window pattern and uses different materials.

An interesting if not aesthetically pleasing entrance area for Keeton’s north wing.

Had to hide from construction workers by hiding behind the board next to the Penske truck.

The unfinished nameplate for Keeton.

Keeton’s balcony.

An architecturally interesting juxtaposition of Baker Tower, Becker House and the Johnson Museum.

Keeton’s lobby area

The dining area and an adjacent lounge in Keeton House.

A random hall of dorm rooms in Keeton.


Boldt Hall and Tower

ATO painted their house, it seems.

As for the photo request…consider it fulfilled.


Gates Hall

10 07 2008

Okay, so in my observations of Cornell and local construction ,there is one thing that continues to be just a bit bothersome; two and a half years after it was announced [1],  there has not been one single rendering of Gates Hall. So, let’s review what we do know.

1)The building is meant to house the Dept. of Computer and Information Sciences (CIS). Gates is allowed to name it because he’s forking over half the expected construction cost (plus, the guy gets around around- UW and Stanford have Gates Halls as well).

From the article: “According to Kenneth Birman, professor of computer science and chair of the CIS building committee, the information campus project is still in the feasibility study stage. Gates Hall is estimated at 100,000 square feet and projected to cost about $50 million.”

2) So, now we know it’s supposed to be about 100,000 square feet. For comparison, Duffield’s gross area is about 150,000 sq. ft. [2]. Further investigation of the facilities website indicates that the architect will be Polshek Architects [3].

3) A review of Polshek’s firm shows some of their previous work:

Polshek Work 1 

Basically, it’s a firm that likes glassy, boxy designs.

4) Lastly, from the Master Plan, we see that CIS is behind Thurston, but there’s two buildings, and it’s a little confusing to tell which is Gates, since they are both listed as “in progress”.

My conclusion: Expect Gates to have a foot ptint between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet, 2-4 floors in height, with a boxy, glassy design not too unlike the Beck Center behind Statler Hall.






Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers