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]




3 responses

22 01 2009

the president at that point was keen on expanding science facilities. other than teaching and U-G labs, rockefeller is quite useless now for physics. his plan called to demolish it and build olin, clark, rock’s replacement, space sciences, and the biology tower. rock’s replacement was never built, and the space sciences was built and later expanded. the bio tower idea was replaced with the implementation of a bio quad by alumni fields. otherwise, the plans went through pretty faithfully.

27 01 2009

On a totally random note, it appears that Cornell’s desire to have unattractive towers (look at the campus master plan) has some precedence.

18 01 2014
The Cornell Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] issue shows a different angle of the same 1960s era campus plan on page 20 that I featured on the blog a few years ago). Offhand, I’m not aware of anything was built in the name of the anniversary, but I guess […]

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