The Cornell Master Plan, Part 5 of 5

10 08 2008

Well, it’s about time I wrap this up. I meant to do this a little earlier, but I became a little sick towards the end of last week, so feeling better was more important than maintaining the IiCH blog.

The Cornell Heights precinct sees change listed under the “although no specific development sites have been identified, additional development may be considered on and(sic) case-by-case basis.” Since this is a nationally-recognized histroic district, I wouldn’t expect anything out of character with the current sttuctures in the neighborhood.

Also, to tie this in with the disppearing suspension bridge incident, the image above has also apparently washed out the Stewart Avenue bridge, making it more likely it was just some half-fast work on the image.

For North Campus proper, there are some notable, but not really controversial changes in the physical plant. The only thing currently underway is the $15 million renovation expansion of Helen Newman designed by architectural firm Dagit-Saylor (they also designed Appel Commons[1]). If the site ever goes back online, you can view the exterior plans for the expansion at this website:

Some of the propsed changes include developing the CC parking lot into dorms, replacing the townhouses with a different set of dorms, and replacing Hasbrouck with some other form of housing. A new dorm would also be built across from the north-facing corner of RPU. I don’t hold much weight for plans for North Campus, probably because the plan developed by Richard Meier in the ’80s was eventually dropped[2], and Cornell just seems to decide spur-of-the-moment what will be built.

The plan suggests that dorm plans be two to four floors in height, but higher heights may be considered depending on the location. The hodge-podge necessitates that new constructions manage to make the North Campus more cohesive without interrupting intuitive pedestrian traffic flow. Which is big and fancy language just to say that it shouldn’t make getting around North more difficult than it already is.

I look at the designs for the more cluster-style developed to reaplce the townhouses and Hasbrouck, and I see a lot of opprotunities to name buildings. I’m sure Cornell could tote that to wealthy alumni that for only $3 million or $5 million, you could get a ten-unit dorm on North named after you. But, they didn’t really do it with the low-rise/high-rises, so they might just leave them nameless. Regardless, it seems rather poor planning that the townhouses, which were built as upperclassmen housing in 1989, would be torn down so soon. More athletic fields would be developed on the sapce freed up by the demolition of Hasbrouck, and some intersections would be realigned to better define the area and improve traffic flow. The idea is thrown out there that further development on Jessup Road have a “main street” character to it.

As for Collegetown, relatively little is mentioned. The plan hinges more on the recommendations of the Collegetown Vision Statement and finalized plan to be released in October of this year. The two primary itmes that are suggested are preserving the housing stock on Linden Avenue, and creating a pedestrian bridge from Eddygate and across the gorge to South Avenue. As someone who frequently commuted between Edgemoor Lane and Cascadilla last year, it wouls have been wonderful if this bridge has existed already. It was a little annoying that to walk a thousand feet as the crow flies, I had to walk up to College Avenue, cross that bridge, and then go down the steep and often icy hill next to the law school. A bridge from Eddygate to South Ave. would have been really nice, and it would definitely serve to make the neighborhood more cohesive with the far southwest portion of campus.


However, plans for a “South Campus” between Maplewood Park and East Hill are extensive. The area is devided into three zones- Maplewood, East Hill Village, and Cornell Park.

In the Maplewood Zone, the Maplewood Park Apartments are entirely replaced with “higher-quality”, more cohesive development. A site for townhouses also exists to the east of Maplewood Park. These areas are expected to be developed in the short-term (perhaps some of the $20 million Cornell is giving to Ithaca for affordable housing should go here?).

The total developed square footage will be between 450,000 and 1,000,000 sq. ft. With 240-480 residential units in the zone.

East Hill Village is an entirely different animal than its predecessor. The East Hill Plaza we currently know is essentially a strip mall, some apartments and a few outlying retail and office buildings (and Oxley Equestrian Center, if you count that). The plan wants to change that.

The area typifies a New Urbanism style development. Mixed-use buildings with an internal grid define most of East Hill Village. Active-use structures, like a grocery store, restaurants and retail stores are encouraged on the street level, with residential and/or office uses on the upper floors.


Meanwhile, the little-used fields to the east of East Hill become the site for Cornell’s new athletic fields and facilities (Ellis Hollow Athletic Complex). The park itself might be a large lawn or meadow that is used for general recreation or as a concert venue.

Cornell has big plans and big dreams. However, like any plan, conditions and preferences might change, so it would be unwise to consider everything to be set in stone. Still, it’s interesting that our insitution has such grand aspirations.











One response

11 08 2008
Phil Will C62

I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. Thanks for sharing.

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