Off-Topic: The Keyword Bar III

31 03 2009


Another fun off-topic entry where I get to comment on some of the more interesting searches that picked up this blog. Otherwise known as my excuse for an entry because I’m in a busy period.

1. “ithaca death hotel ezra cornell” 3/29/09

Technically, I’ve never posted much on this because I’ve never been able to verify it. Story goes that two hotel students experimenting with drugs decided to climb out onto a building ledge and see if they could fly during Hotel Ezra Cornell. Makes for a great story if you’re in to that macabre sort of thing. The incident was supposed to have happened sometime in the 1980s.

2. “cornell’s s—-t s——-s ithacating” 3/26/09

Long story short, I received a face-to-face warning to take down a certain entry. I know it keeps triggering fruitless searches, but it makes for a fun story that I caused them to get their panties all in a bunch over a blog entry.

3. “bradfield hall eighth floor cornell” 3/26/09

Is nothing special. For those who have yet to venture through the upper floors of Bradfield, the building in entirely lined with brick with lab and work rooms coming off each side. Also worth noting is that with the exception of the first floor, men’s rooms are on odd floors and ladies on even floors. This was due to a budget cut during its design phases.

4. “kdr pledge pin” 3/23/09

Little blue shield-style badges with a red diagonal stripe saying “KDR” in gold print.  There’s actually an entire website dedicated to that sort of thing:

5. “”green cafe” ithaca new korean” 3/22/09

Yes, I’m just as aware of it as the rest of you. This restaurant opened at 300 College Avenue this past week. It’s owned by Charles Park and modeled after his flagship cafe in Manhattan[1]. I myself don’t plan on spending 7.50 for a sandwich (not to dissuade anyone else of course), but if someone wants to share reviews, by all means go ahead.

I think this is the first time in several years all four corners have been competely occupied. The least time may have been when Sam Gould’s Collegetown Store (NE corner – now the Ciaschi Building), a dilapidated oversized apartment house (NW corner – now Starbucks), a convenience store (SE corner – Kraftee’s) and a BoA branch (Green Cafe) occupied the corners in the mid 1980s.

On that note, the Starbucks building is owned by Avramis Real Estate, which has built or completely remodeled several properties in the past few years [400 College, 227 Linden, 319 College – 2]. I  suspect that with the lifting of the moratorium next month, the Collegetown Liquor Store or M&T Bank property, both Avramis properties, will be next in line for redevelopment.

6. “john rancich and his new projects 2009” 3/18/2009

Which one, the wind farm in Enfield [3], or Carrowmoor? Man’s got a lot of stuff planned for little ol’ Tompkins County.

7. “delta kappa epsilon branding” 3/17/2009

Um…possibly? This blog devotes no resources to the discussion of pledging procedures. A search on google brings up a very informative article about branding by multicultural fraternities and sororities.

I have lost count how many sorority ritual hits I’ve received about Kappa Delta’s “dagger”, or Alpha Phi’s secret words, or Sigma Kappa’s “blood ritual”.

8. “ithacating in cayuga heights” 3/11/09

Really? I know the name’s a little wordy, but I didn’t think it was that hard to remember. I guess that’s because I’m the one writing it.

Taking a look at the top search terms now…out of about 21,000 or so hits since Ithacating was launched last June…

“Corten steel (506 hits)” and “corten (485 hits)”. Nearly 1,000 hits for a type of steel I only mention for the sole fact that it’s the steel used on the exterior of Uris Hall. “ithacating” comes in third with 117 hits.

Meanwhile, “sigma chi cornell” claims the most hits out of any Greek chapter, with 76 hits. I think my own chapter has had maybe 10. A good number of greek searches are actually meant for RPI, Penn State and the University of Toronto. But, I only cover Cornell, with a little bit of Ithaca College. Sorry!







The Planning Board’s Lack of Logic

20 03 2009

Goody Clancy’s suggested plan:


The recommendations from the planning board


Note the differences. There are many. It’s as if they looked at the $200,000 study, said “it’s nice, but-“, and went the opposite direction.

So, the planning board has not only not accepted Goody Clancy’s advice, it’s doing the reverse – it’s making zoning even more restrictive, and (as suggested) making parking tighter in Collegetown in favor of garages in the city. I’m sure they’re patting themselves on the back for “preserving the neighborhood”. In my opinion, considering the parking and discouragement of multi-unit buildings, this seems to be a not-too-subtle suggestion to students from permanent residents: we don’t want you here.

My suggestion to permanent Collegetown residents: too bad. As Cornell’s class sizes increase, where do you think they’ll move? North is well protected as a historic district (Cornell Heights – and Cayuga Heights has had restrictions in place for years). West is largely undevelopable due to topography and the cemetery. Living outside the close proximity of Cornell will lead to students bringing cars with them, resulting in more traffic congestion, which is (and should be) discouraged.  Students will therefore move to Collegetown, and I’m willing to bet that as opprotunities arise, landlords will buy up the owner-occupied properties and turn them into student occupied houses, since there will be more demand. This may pass for now, but in the long term, the anti-development crowd is going to dwindle down. There’s nothing Mary Tomlan and the planning board can do about that.

Greetings from Sunny Ithaca

17 03 2009

Yes, it’s spring break. I’m working in Ithaca and studying for a GRE I have in a few days.  It’s warmer than usual and sunny. No, Ithaca does not miss you. Anyways…


The building in the center of this image is Morrison Hall. Morrison, the home of the animal science major (pre-vet and non-pre-vet flavors) was built in 1961 [1]- hence the fact it’s a 133,000 sq. ft. characterless box (though I guess that’s better than the monstrosity next to it, the Boyce Thompson Institute).  The building was named for Frank B. Morrison, a professor and director of animal husbandry here at the university [2]. For the less recent alumni, the orange building in the back is the East Wing Addition to the Vet School that was completed in 2007. Yes, it has virtually, no windows. No one said Cornell’s modern architecture was known for its aesthetically pleasing qualities.


In contrast, as utilitarian as Baker was meant to be, it still retains some charm to it, probably from the classical columns and brickwork of the structure. According to Charles Wilcox [3], the initial designs for Baker were actually drawn up around 1910, which was six years before Morse Hall was destroyed in a fire. Funding for Baker came through in 1918, and during it construction the benefactor was anonymous. George Baker, a prominent New York banker who donated $1.5 million to its construction, only unveiled himself at the building’s dedication ( a similar experience occurred when Balch Hall was dedicated). The building had any number of problems from poorly maintained exhaust hoods to flooding in the basement to the ceiling being so low that chemical engineering could not fit in the building and so had to have a building of its own. Some of these problems were rectified when Baker was renovated in 1969, but others such as the flooding continue even into today.


In the same category as Morrison (the category being random ugly crap we threw up in the ’60s) is the Spencer T. Olin Laboratory Tower.  I like this because there’s a nice detailed story concerning its construction floating around the internet [3]. The construction of the building was overseen by a Chem department honcho by the name of William Miller; he was less concerned about winning prizes in an architectural journal and more about the building performing its function properly. The nine-story, 64,000 square foot building was built in 1967, with the intention of being flexible in its use for the Chemistry department. The exhaust structures on the sides were built in the 1990s, making an unattractive building downright ugly. Two of the issues encountered during its instruction were an underground cave that actually caused a caisson (a base support column, if you will) to collapse (they believed an ancient underground river once ran through the site), and that the tarpaulins caught fire on the side of the building ( a tarpaulin is designed to allow construction in cold weather; like what you see on the new Vet building here).


The last incident involving Olin is something that one would come to expect at Cornell. To quote Charles Wilcox’s paper:

“The decision to use an outside architect and to go for efficiency rather than beauty led to an amusing incident. The dedication of the new wing was held at the four-story interface between old Baker and the new wing. When President Perkins rose to give his speech, a group of students from the College of Architecture who had secretly gathered on the roof of the passageway unfurled a building-long banner that read MEDIOCRE and waved placards reading UGLY and VERY UGLY. The startled president stepped back to avoid being hit by weights at the bottom of the falling banner; although grazed he graciously laughed and responded: I question your judgment, but admire your logistics. It is not recorded what Bill Miller thought, but it is likely that he took secret pleasure in knowing that he had not wasted money on unproductive artistic features. ”

Oh architects! And we thought all you did was chain smoke, lock yourselves in Rand and burn dragons. Speaking of which,


Me passing up photos on Dragon Day would’ve been like a pedophile passing a playground (though not nearly as perverse).


Continuing our tour of building that were only built out of necessity, we have to mention Clark Hall. The homes of AEP and vanilla Physics, this 84-foot tall box was completed in 1965, and was named for W. van Alan Clark 1909, an Avon perfume scientist who donated $3 million towards its $7.3 million price tag [4]. So equivalently, that would suggest the donor for the new physical sciences building would have to donate about $33 million to the reconciled cost of $81 million [5]. I’m all for tapping in to Ratan Tata’s fortune to cover it.

By the way, if we can handle the height of Clark, I see no reason why we can’t handle a much slimmer building of similar height in Collegetown. Just saying.






Cornell’s Secret Societies

13 03 2009

I was politely asked to remove all of this entry.

Warren Real Estate Tries to Sell a Frat House

4 03 2009

This was oddly funny to me. The house in question is 210 Thurston Avenue, covered in an entry last July.

Photo Property of Warren Real Estate

“Walk to Cornell University from this 22 bedroom group house. The house is legal for up to 33 people. This s a unique opportunity to own a wonderful investment property. There are 6 full bathrooms (2 master suites), a commercial style kitchen, and parking for up to 15 cars. Over 7,000 square feet of living space on first & second floors. The full basement has a paved concrete foundation and significant additional living space featuring a rec. room and a dining area.”

Now here’s the history they skipped over. This house was built around 1900. The first fraternity to inhabit its halls was Delta Sigma Phi, which closed in WWII and never reopened. Alpha Omicron Pi made use of this house for a short while, and Sigma Alpha Mu moved in for 1947/1948. Sigma Alpha Mu maintained the property until they moved to Sisson Place in 2004. After that, the house became known as Phi Delta Theta’s annex (which, for being the dry house on campus, the real estate website’s photo of a large beer pong table in their annex does nothing for P.R.).

Like, really guys? Next time, throw a sheet over the table, it won’t be so blatantly obvious. Like the beer cans wedged between the second floor balconies.

Even better, it would appear that not only is this house for sale, but Theta Xi’s moving in [2]. From a Craigslist excerpt:

“Theta Xi Fraternity is moving into the old Phi Delta Theta annex at 210 Thurston Ave. for the 09/10 school year. We will have around 10 brothers in the house and need around 10 boarders. The cost will be 100,000 for 20 people for a 10-month lease, which is 500 a person. ”

For the curious, this 7,044 square ft. house has an asking price of $950,000. Maybe Theta Xi has some rich alumni they could appeal to.

Looks like the times are a changin’.



Ithaca Construction Isn’t Ending…Yet

3 03 2009

With all the doom and gloom associated with the current economic times (rightfully so), it’s easy to forget that there are still some projects in the pipeline outside of Cornell, but in the surrounding Ithaca area. Since it’s been a while since I chronicled those, let’s do a quick overview.


Ithaca’s northern suburb has a number of different projects  planned. Currently going through the pipeline are the Lansing Commons project (~50 units) and the Cayuga Farms projects (~138 units). The projects are typical suburban development, consisting of single-family homes, townhouses, and a few apartment buildings and commerical office buildings. The buildout would be over a period of several years.

Ithaca (town)

Apart from some minor subdivisions, an electrical substation and a wireless tower, the big project in the town of Ithaca is the Carrowmoor project [2].  The 400-unit project is an eco-friendly development of houses and a small village center of retail and office space. The residential units are a mix of single-family houses, townhouses and apartment buildings. The buildout is also over a period of several years. Building designs are meant to be a throwback to the days of Tudor England (for better of for worse [3 -The website for the development looks like it was built in 2000, and takes a long while to load]).


Ithaca City

Two outparcels (small-box retail no doubt) are planned for the SW commerical district. One is in front of the Tops Plaza, the other is next to Wal-Mart. Renovation for the Hangar Theatre, finalized drfats for the Ithaca College Athletics Center, and construction for Urban Outfitters planned downtown location are also going through the board. The Hotel Ithaca is still underway- technically. The 10-story, 100 ft. building is currently being held up because the building has a nine-foot overhang over the Green Street Garage—meaning it’s in city air space, and has to go in front of the board to get approval for that air space [4]. A little bit ridiculous, perhaps, but that’s how it’s done. anyways, the preliminary design has been brought in front of the board, but no image is widely available as of yet.

Technically, the Southwest neighborhood plan is still active too, but that one might just as well be considered in hibernation given the economic situation.

Heck, since I’m writing this, I might as well include progress photos of some of the campus projects.


Veterinary School Animal Health Diagnostic Center


Physical Sciences Building


MVR North expansion


 Hotel School Expansion