The Clark Hall Addition That Was Never Built

22 01 2009

So, I came across rather serendipitously while going through some archived photos. Luckily, since I carry my camera around with me everywhere, I was able to take a photo.


So, this comes from a revised edition of the 1954 Cornell Historical Photo book that I previously used in an entry, this being the 1965/66 update. This is clearly evident with the photo at the top, taken in approximately 1964 when Clark Hall was under construction.

Then we look at the bottom photo. And you notice there’s no Rockefeller. It’s replaced with some massive complex. My first thought was “what the f— is that! It’s f—–g massive!”.


First, some chronological details. Since James Perkins is in the photo, and Clark Hall is completed, and this book was published in late 1965/early 1966, so we can assume this photo dates from about 1965. From the caption, we know this was a building proposal that would have been completed by 1980 (notably, the growth in numbers the caption cites stayed largely true to form- there were a little more than 17,000 students in 1980, but about 11,500-12,000 were undergraduate).

So, then we have the “renovated” Rockefeller—a massive low-rise building that by my guess was 180,000 or 200,000 square feet (for reference, Rockefeller is 125,000 gross sq ft [1]). There’s a large extrusion streetside, that I’m kinda imagining wasn’t too different from the west extrusion of Uris Libe that was built in the early 1980s. The low-rise largely conforms to Rockefeller’s footprint otherwise.

Then we have the massive tower right behind A.D. White’s house. We’ll call that “Rockefeller Annex”. This annex is massive- the model, when compared to surrounding buildings, suggests to me between 15-18 floors. The building has an odd rooftop with an indentation that was likely a balcony area. Design-wise, the building is strikingly similar to Lawrinson Hall, a highrise dorm that was built at nearby Syrcause University in 1965 [2].

Photo copyright of Syracuse University

However, the building at Cornell is a little different-facade wise, it seems to bear similarities to the model used for Olin Labs, which would be completed in 1967 and probably had only just finished with the final design. Think about it. An eighteen-story box with thin vertical windows like Olin Labs.Yes, that is a very horrific thought. It would be sacrilege to A.D.White’s house. Plus, the Big Red Barn would’ve been torn down to make way for the tower and its 3/4-story component to the southeast.By the way, behind Perkins and Provost Mackesey are some site plans. Which show three extensions from the renovated Rockefeller, but not much else for discussion.Conclusion: While we had some really bad architecture in the 60s and 70s, just be glad that not all of it was built. Be very glad.[1]


Buildings No One Really Cares About

17 01 2009

So, I had hardly any internet access while I was gone, but it would appear this blog had more than its fair share of hits this past week. It’s probably due to rush, and considering the content of ICH,  I’m not surprised.

But today we’ll just do another photo tour.


Since someone asked about it, I decided to make a trip out to Ward Labs on the southern edge of the campus and the engineering quad. Ward Labs, or more properly the Ward Center for Nuclear Sciences, was completed in 1963. At this time, nuclear engineering was experiencing great interest. But after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the nation experienced a serious decline in interest in nuclear studies, and the engineering school disbanded it’s Nuclear Science and Engineering program in 1995 [1].  On May 4, 2001, Cornell announced that it would decomission the TRIGA Mark II nuclear reactor inside the facility, due to underutilization and unwanted liability concerning the handling, use and transport of nuclear materials. The reactor was a 500 kilowatt facility used strictly for research and teaching. A dry irradiation facility that uses the radioactive Cobalt-60 was recommended to be maintained at the facility. The building still contained radioactive waste, so when 9/11 happened, road blocks were installed around the facility [2].

Then we fast forward to October 2008. There was a very interesting article written by Munier Salem for the Daily Sun highlighting the increased interest in building new facilties and a revived interest in the field as the energy crisis affected the nation, and how some view the decomissioning as a huge mistake.

Today, with the exception of some offices and little-used labs, the Ward Center is largely abandoned. The building is slated to be torn down under the master plan (assuming our endowment holds out).


I felt that since I was there, I should take a photo of Grumman Hall too, if but just to say I have one.


I make a big deal about Bradfield, but I never have really mentioned Emerson Hall. Emerson, the low-rise portion of the Bradfield complex, was also completed in 1968 and houses labs and offices for the department of Crop and Soil Sciences. The building is named for Rollins Emerson, who was the head of the Plant Breeding Department for a few decades in the first half of the 20th century.


Riley-Robb Hall. This building was built in 1956 and is designed in the stripped classical style [4]. Very, very stripped. The emphasis with this building was on materials, primarily limestone, yellow brick, and marble. Two bas-relief limestone heads flank the entry stairs, the one on the north side being Ceres and the one on the south being Pomona. The building currently houses the Biological and Environmental Engineering program.

Also worth noting is the $6 million dollar renovation for the east wing set to be completed in March. This lab will focus on biofuels research [5].



Bartels Hall, originally known as Alberding Field House, was completed  in 1990. The building houses the Lindseth Cimbing Wall (the alrgest indoor wall in the country, Cornell claims [6]), basketball courts, artificial turf practice areas and a 5,000 seat indoor sports facility. The building was renamed in 2000 as a thank-you for a $15 million donation from Hank and Nancy Bartels of the class of 1948.  Charles Alberding ’23 was a major benefactor of Cornell athletic programs, but the building was never formally named for him [7].







[7]                        – see Question 11

News Tidbits 1/8/09: Miracles Do Happen

8 01 2009

All I can say is, it’s about time.

ITHACA – Cornell’s Milstein Hall project will benefit Cornell and the public while minimizing negative impacts, Ithaca’s Planning Board decided.

The Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to grant preliminary site plan approval to the $54 million project that includes a new, 59,000-square-foot building that will connect Rand and Sibley halls and stretch over University Avenue toward the Foundry.

A new Central Avenue Parking Garage will also provide 199 parking spaces on three levels, two of them underground.

The project has been delayed for at least five years with various designs and, most recently, a dispute between the university and the city’s Board of Public Works over the proposal to place part of the building over University Avenue.

After months of disagreement, the university decided to use a cantilever design rather than columns, which would have required an easement from the city. Separately, Cornell and the city later agreed that Cornell would pay to rebuild and maintain the badly deteriorated University Avenue in exchange for the city’s decision to give up its public right of way on the road.

The planning board has been reviewing an environmental impact statement on Milstein for the past two months and has heard comments from Ithacans and Art, Architecture and Planning faculty and students for and against the project.

Cornell and those in favor of the project have argued that the additional space is needed to maintain the Art, Architecture and Planning College’s accreditation and to programmatically connect the three buildings.

Planning Board Chairman John Schroeder said the existing conditions leave the Foundry disconnected and looking “like a maintenance building.” Milstein Hall would move the center of activity more toward the middle, better linking the buildings, he said.

Those against the project have argued that the very modern design of Milstein Hall will be jarring next to the historic Rand and Sibley halls.

Ithaca’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will review historic preservation concerns related to the project at their meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14 in City Hall, 108 E. Green St. The commission would have to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness for Milstein Hall to be built, Acting Planning Director JoAnn Cornish said by e-mail.

Cornell also needs final site plan approval from the Planning Board, which could come at its Jan. 27 meeting, Cornish said.

John Gutenberger, director of community relations at Cornell, said if the final approvals are granted, construction could start by early spring. Milstein Hall is not subject to the university’s construction pause, he said.

The project would be complete by December 2010, project manager Andrew Magre said.


In other news, the massive (by Ithaca standards) development called “Carrowmoor” continues to clear the political hurdles. From the town of Ithaca’s 1/6/09 minutes:

Consideration of designation of the Town of Ithaca Planning Board to act as Lead Agency, and the determination of a Positive Declaration of Environmental Significance for the proposed Carrowmoor development project located off Mecklenburg Road (NYS Route 79), north of Rachel Carson Way, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No. 27-1-14.2, Agricultural and Medium Density Residential Zones.  The proposal includes the development of 400 +/- residential condominium units, a community center complex, up to 36,000 square feet of neighborhood oriented commercial uses, up to 32 living units in an elderly residential building, a child care center, and other mixed-use development on 158 +/- acres.  The project will also include multiple new roads and walkways, open recreation areas, stormwater facilities, and community gardens.  Town of Ithaca actions also include consideration of adoption of a proposed local law to enact a Planned Development Zone in conjunction with the Carrowmoor proposal.  The Planning Board may also begin discussions of the draft scoping document for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  John Rancich, Owner/ Applicant; Steven Bauman, Agent; Mary Russell, Attorney.”

Still some hurdles left though. The Planning Board must approve both the environmental review and site plan review before Carrowmoor could be built. The Town Board also has to pass a local law changing the zoning to allow for the project’s development.


No entries for the next week, as I’ll be mostly internet-less at a conference. For those of you planning to attend Rush Week, good luck and have fun.

One Stormy Day on Campus, Continued

2 01 2009

Look at it this way; I’m not being paid to do this, and you don’t have to put up with a helicopter Mom asking twenty million questions about academics.

So, today I’m going through the engineering quad. Back in the day, the engineering buildings were Sibley, Franklin (Tjaden), Rand and Lincoln. By the early 1960s however, they had all shifted down to the present-day engineering quad.


Bard Hall is one of the smaller inteconnected buildings that make up the engineering quad. The 50,000 sq. ft. building was completed in 1963 [1], 12 years after the construction of its neighbor Thurston Hall, but was designed by the same architects. Appropriately so, materials science is based out of this building, which is clad in brown Ithaca stone, limestone, glass, and aluminum. Bard Hall is named Francis Norwood Bard, Class of 1904  [2].


Don’t mind the rain spots. So, no review of the engineering quad would be complete unless I discussed Duffield Hall, the newest addition to the quad.

The plot of land that Duffield was built on was home ot some lanscaped quad space to the north, and the two-story white box that was the Knight Labs building to the south (the building was demolished and the labs were incorporated into Duffield).

Duffield Hall is named for Richard Duffield, Class of 1962. Duffield made his fortune by being the founder and president/CEO of the software company Peoplesoft [3]. The same Peoplesoft that screws everyone over for CoursEnroll.  


The building began construction in 2001 and was officially opened in October 2004.  The building has a usable area of about 130,000 sq. ft [4] and cost about $58.5 million. The building houses a small a la carte dining facility (Mattin’s), a large atrium, and Knight Labs (named for Lester Knight ’29) with its Cornell NanoScale Facility (CNF). Sorry, no photos of the folks in clean suits.


Thurston Hall is the centerpiece of the engineering quad. The building, designed in the Art Moderne style, was completed in 1951 [5]. This building technically has less usable space than Bard, but it depends on where you draw the line between it and Kimball Hall to the east, which was built at the same time. The building is named for Robert Thurston, an early Cornell engineering professor.

As you can see, the outside says Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM). Technically, this department was merged with the school of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, effective yesterday (how convenient for this entry) [6].


It was really windy.  Mother Nature just decided to  crap on Ithaca that day.


The completely unobtrusive Kimball Hall. Technically, Kimball is recognized as “the Eastern pavilion of Thurston Hall”. Also completed in 1951, the building is 30,000 sq. ft. and originally housed the geology department on its upper floors [7]. The building is possibly named for Henry Kimball, Class of 1911, who was a state supreme court justice [8].


Cornell’s 1950s Engineering Quad plan:

1. Design a completely boring structure. Because we’re overcrowded.

2. Find an alum willing to fork over enough cash to pay for it; slap their name on the building in return.

3. Repeat

Upson Hall is a 160,000 sq. ft building completed in 1956 [9]. Upson Hall is named for Maxwell Upson, Class of 1899, and a longtime Cornell trustee [8]. The building serves as the central hub for the Computer Science department. This building could otherwise be known for a 24-hour computer lab that up until recently was a filthy lie (that damn thing was never open at night back in 07′).


So, this is technically two buildings. The foreground box with the green window banding is part of Phillips Hall, a 100,000 sq. ft building built in 1955. The background structure (where the ladder is) is Grumman Hall, a 17,000 sq. ft building completed in 1957 [10]. Update: Or so I thought. It’s probably just another part of Phillips, but Grumman would be in the background if it was tall enough to be visible. Confusing, isn’t it?

Grumman is named for Leroy Grumman, Class of 1916 and founder of Grumman Aircraft (now Northrop Grumman [11]). Phillips Hall, named for Ellis Phillips 1895 [2], is home to the Electrical Engineering department, and Grumman houses some Aeronautics courses.


Update: Facilities calls this part of Upson. Apparently, the only way you can make a clear difference is the color of the window banding.   I s’pose it wouldn’t be as confusing if you’ve had classes here, but these are the only two of the main engineering quad that I’ve never had a course lecture or section.

(Thank Heaven.) 


So, because I was using images and wordpress doesn’t allow imae attachments in comments, I figured it would just be easier to edit the original entry. As several readers (salem, Nagowski, and andrew) have noted, the physical seperations between Grumman, Upson and Phillips are very difficult to determine, since they are all interconnected. Consider the map below. 


The map would suggest that Grumman is the south wing of the complex, Upson is on the west, and Phillips on the north. However, going through the facilities websites, Phillips is listed as 100,000 sq ft (88,000 net), Upson as 160,000 sq ft (142,000 net), and Grumman is by far the smallest at only about 16,300 sq ft (14,500 net).

Back in the day, Grumman might have been much larger. Older images have suggested that there was a multi-story (~4 floors) box jutting out of the east side of the complex where Rhodes Hall stands today.

So, we then have the task of trying to determine what Cornell thinks are seperate building areas. Upson is undoubtedly the yellow banded building on the west (Upson Hall is clearly printed next to the staircase). However, it’s also the largest, yet its footprint (if we assume from the map) is seemingly small.

Here’s one issue: if you search Upson Hall on campus facilities, you get a photo virtually identical to my last photo, which I claim to be part of Phillips. Upson uses yellow trim, as does this wing of the complex. So, andrew is right on this one, it’s likely a part of Upson.

Phillips uses blue-green panels. Also, the corresponding facilities image is the north entrance next to Duffield. We could therefore say that Phillips is the foreground building in the image where I claim Phillips and part of Grumman are visible.

Courtesy of facilities, here’s their file photo of Grumman, which they describe as “A rectangular box with alternating horizontal bands of limestone panels, blue-green terracotta, and strip windows framed in aluminum.” :

The yellow banding of Upson is clearly visible, and Grumman is the building on the right, in the foreground of Rhodes. So, here’s a big question: at only 17,000 sq. ft, where does Grumman end and Upson begin? In the attached photos, I claim the background rooftop structure behind Phillips, with the ladder, is Grumman. However, it’s more likely another part of Phillips. Grumman is not in my images, and at such a small size, it’s not the easiest building to determine.