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



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