A Preview of Future Construction Projects

14 05 2010

A look at Cornell’s Capital Plan is a good source for the vague beginnings of any large-scale construction projects to occur down the Cornell pipeline in the next four to five years. Looking at the projects approves or under way, most have already been covered by this blog in previous entries (the ones that aren’t just renovations anyway — Warren Hall’s going to be virtually gutted over the next few years, but there will be no extensive changes to its exterior appearance). I know that Weill Cornell (WCMC) is about to start on a new 14-story, $650 million biomedical building down in the city, but I’ve always preferred to focus on the Ithaca area (because honestly, most Ithaca-based Cornellians could care less about the facilities in Geneva or New York City).

Projects seeking approval for FY (Fiscal Year) 2010 are clearly underway. The initial steel frame just went up for Milstein and the Statler’s rooms are being renovated. The Johnson Museum expansion is well underway (still in the giant hole in the ground stage, which makes sense since it’s mostly an underground expansion) and the Plantations Welcome Center is currently starting to undergo external facade work now that the frame and much of the insulation have been applied. Under the projects for future consideration section, the Olin Library improvements are in the pipeline as are the feasibility studies for the Cornell Rowing Center Renovation and Expansion and the Central Avenue Parking Garage (renders included below).

Central Ave. Parking Garage Proposal

Perhaps the most intriguing projects are the deferred major projects. Granted, they’re deferred, but they’ll likely come back online once budget conditions improve. One of these major projects is a $183 million engineering building. This could quite possibly be the one shown on the Cornell Master Plan that replaces Hollister and Carpenter Halls, especially since the master plan indicates the project is underway in some form.

However, the only probably with that theory is that there’s three buildings, all in the planning stages, in the vicinity of the engineering quad. Based off of old press releases, Site 2 as numbered in the image (the smallest circle) is almost certainly Gates Hall, which is described as a $65 million dollar project in the capital plan (makes sense; smaller building = lower cost). So, the question is, is the approved project number 1 or number 3? I doubt it’s both because then they would have to be filed separately since they are separate structures.

Another project of question is the East Hill Data Center, a $100 million project. Unfortunately, there are no rendering anywhere, and it’s impossible to use the master plan to figure out which building this might be, as the master plan totally redevelops this area, so this one is anyone’s guess.

The University Health Building and the Helen Newman expansion have been bandied about for some time. The new health building will have roughly the same footprint as the current structure, but maybe a floor taller. Helen Newman has been awaiting an expansion that will add a second pool and additional exercise space, but the original price tag was $15 million, instead of the $30 million listed in the capital plan. One wonders whether this is due to rising costs or more ambitious plans.

Hughes Hall and Myron Taylor Hall (the Law School) are due for $28 million in expansion and upgrades. If it’s anything like what is suggested in the master plan, it’s a modern-looking (i.e. clashes with everything around it) building with alot of below-grade parking. However, I have yet to see any true renderings for this project.

Last on the deferred list is an addition to the 4th floor of Phillips Hall, worth almost $6 million. Don’t expect this to be more than a few thousand square feet at most.

Well, my time at Cornell may be almost complete, but it seems like the construction will never be. It’s okay, I could always use another excuse to come back when I’m an alumnus.


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