Cornell Likes Having Friends

30 06 2013

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The majority of buildings at Cornell are named for faculty, staff, and alumni with deep pockets. A few others just have generic titles. Occasionally, a building on campus is named for someone with no association with Cornell, except that they helped out the university (usually from a financial aspect). Some of buildings named for “Friends of Cornell”, as Alumni Affairs likes to call them, are detailed below.  One exception I make is that early on, some folks who were Cornell trustees (but had no association otherwise) have buildings named for them, such as Henry W. Sage, John McGraw and Hiram Sibley; but since they served Cornell in an official capacity, I’m excluding them here.

Morrill Hall (1868)  – Like many land-grant institutions, Cornell’s Morrill Hall is named for Justin Smith Morrill, author of the Morrill Act that allowed the sale of federal lands to raise funds for colleges focused on the agricultural and technical trades (some of the other schools include Purdue, Rutgers and MIT; Morrill is known best for this legislation, with his anti-Mormon work a distant second). Morrill had no official association with Cornell, although he did pay a visit to the university at least once, in 1883.

Morse Hall (1890), Franklin Hall (1883) and Lincoln Hall (1888) – In the Gilded Age, engineering and science buildings had the pleasure of being named for “great men” that contributed to the then-present condition of the university and STEM studies. Hence, Samuel Morse (inventor of the telegraph), Benjamin Franklin (politician, scientist, and all around bad-ass), and Abraham Lincoln (president who oversaw the passage of the Morrill Act). Morse Hall burned down, and Franklin Hall became Tjaden Hall (for prominent female architect Olive Tjaden ’25 ) in 1980.

Rockefeller Hall (1903) – Named and partially paid for by John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest man in the world at the time (and, proportionately, believed to be the wealthiest man ever). Rockefeller has recently retired from Standard Oil and was just beginning his philanthropies, funding schools he believed to be practical. Rumor has it that he was so disappointed with the (then considered unattractive) appearance of Rockefeller Hall he vowed to never donate another cent to Cornell. Which hardly dampened his funding of institutions.

Fun fact, Walter Teagle, of Teagle Hall fame, was a vice president of Standard Oil a few decades later.

Baker Lab (1923) – Funded by George F. Baker, a sort of Warren Buffet of his time, and one of the wealthiest Americans on the early 20th century. Baker also provided much of the funding for the Harvard Business school, and made his way through the Ivy League with his donations, including Columbia’s Baker Field and Dartmouth’s Baker Library.

Mudd Hall (the west wing of Corson-Mudd Hall, 1982) – Named for Seeley G. Mudd, a prominent philanthropist. The foundation established with his fortune explicitly earmarks donations for the construction of academic buildings – the wikipedia list shows no less than 30 schools that have benefited from his funds. Otherwise, Dr. Mudd has no connection to Cornell.

Gates Hall (2013/14) – Not unlike Mudd Hall, Gates Hall is funded with a hefty donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic org maintained by Warren Buffet and  Microsoft overlord Bill Gates.


King-Shaw Hall

21 06 2013


So, in doing research for a later entry, I was going through the list of facilities on Cornell’s website, and came across an unfamiliar name – King-Shaw Hall.  So I decided to check – the facilities website contains buildings that have long ago been torn down, such as Morse Hall.

To my uncomfortable surprise, the ILR Conference Center changed its name way back in October 2012. In my defense, this appears to have happened right around my first week on the job, so my mind was on other things. Secondly, if this was anything like the sudden change they made with the ILR Extension Building becoming Dolgen Hall in 2008, then I can’t be blamed too much, as that one almost flew under the radar while I was a still a student (had it not been for the lettering change outside the building, I would not have known).

According to the ILR press release, the building was renamed for Patricia and Ruben King-Shaw ’83, so two donors but not two separate donors as one might suspect (see Court-Kay-Bauer for an example of the latter). Ruben King-Shaw is the chairman of an equity firm, and according to Forbes, has an extended history serving in executive roles in healthcare administration, both public and private. For better or worse, one of his daughters currently attends Cornell; on the bright side, you can point to the building and say, with pride, it’s named for your family; on the other hand, it means every time you do well on something, or if you’re selected for a secret society, your peers will snidely whisper it’s because of the enormous amount of money your family donated to the university.  For the record, although the amount donated is undisclosed, it’s probably something similar or marginally more than the amount donated by John Dolgen, which was described as a “multimillion-dollar gift“.

As to the building itself, The ILR Conference Center was built in 1911 as an expansion of the Vet School. ILR moved in during the late 1940s. As with Dolgen and the ILR Research Building on the south end of the complex, King-Shaw Hall underwent a significant renovation from 2002-2004, but because these buildings were designated landmarks, the exteriors were relatively unaltered. I suppose at this point, it won’t be long before ILR finds a donor for the Research Building, if someone feels the urge to part with some millions for nominal immortality.

Five Years Later

18 06 2013

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Well, as promised earlier, today’s the big day, where Ithacating celebrates birthday #5. I’m pretty sure this falls into the realm of “old” blogs by this point, especially if I believe the kids over at Ezrahub. Thankfully, unlike them and Eliiott Back’s old Cornell Blog, even if Cornell disliked my use of their name, I refer to a place instead of the school itself. In keeping with tradition, here’s a rundown of this blog’s statistics:


Since launch, which was about 7 PM on June 18, 2008, this blog has garnered 308,481 hits, as of 2:30 PM today. In previous years, the blog averaged 82, 166, 199 and 216 hits daily. This year, it plateaued in the fall and effectively plunged in the spring. The blog only averaged 182 hits per day in the past year. I have a couple of theories – as old posts become “outdated”, they disappear from the radar; as folks have switched to twitter and other platforms, the audience may not quite be there like it used to. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t make me concerned, but the summer numbers will help figure out part of the problem – if they’re comparable to last year, than I’m just not familiar to the Cornell crowd anymore.

In contrast to previous years, the highest month was January, with 8,019 hits. One of the things I didn’t see quite so much was the summer plunge, since Ithaca traffic tends to be less seasonal than Cornell traffic. Why things decreased so much in February, I still don’t know.

Looking at the year in review:

~In planning and development, Collegetown Terrace and the Vine Street Cottages are well underway. 107 Cook was completed, and Collegetown Crossing was postponed because the BZA did not work out that whole parking requirement issue, and it falls to the city to actually change the parking space requirement. The southern suburbia got Ithaca Beer’s new brewery, the Fairfield Inn is nearly complete, and a proposal for eco-friendly housing, while Ecovillage started its next expansion over on West Hill. Cornell proposed some new townhomes near Eastern Heights, and Cayuga Heights decided it wanted to have a walkable town center.

In pleasant contrast to last year, the city was brimming with construction, ongoing and proposed. Seneca Way is under construction, Breckenridge Place is marching towards completion, and new proposals abound, such as Harold’s Square, the new Hampton Inn, and 130 East Clinton. Even some traditionally less developed areas are getting in on the act, with the Purity Ice Cream proposal near West End. Planned Parenthood is underway, the Iacovelli project and Magnolia House are nearly complete, and the Hotel Ithaca and Holiday Inn sites are in hold-over, but with construction begin dates on paper. Even the Cayuga Place project seems to making an attempt at true site prep. Finally breaking down the numbers, it became clear Ithaca is in a residential building boom.

Looking at our colleges, IC has some renovations underway, and Cornell plods on with Gates Hall, the Big Red Bandhouse, and the Stocking Hall rebuild and renovation. Prep is just starting on the new humanities building, Klarman Hall, a long ways off from its 2015 completion. Perhaps most importantly to students, the bridge fences finally came down, and with it, the last strong reminders of a dark semester in Cornell’s history.

Thankfully for my gas tank, a website arose that focuses closely on Ithaca construction and development – the succinctly named Ithaca Builds.

-Looking at Cornelliana, this blog compared and contrasted Far Above Cayuga to our friends on University Hill, took a look at Ezra’s progeny, and a favorite Cornell hobby, comparing it against its peers, in this case for Nobel Prize recipients. In a goodbye to another college memory, Dear Uncle Ezra went on indefinite hiatus. In Greek life, Kappa Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha reopened, while a bunch of chapters were suspended or shut down (just looking at the Ezrahub site for this writeup, it appears ATO is the latest case). The Greek system looks to have had a rough year. In more general topics, there was a discussion on that time Ithaca almost had a commercial nuclear power plant, a look at Carl Sagan, the Collegetown Creeper, census estimates, and some other things in between.

In my personal life, this past year will go down as the year of uncertainty. Gainfully employed in my field, but still trying to advance my career and clear hurdles as they come up. I’m hoping to fulfill that goal in the next few weeks with some ongoing opportunities.

Five years is a long time to be around. It’s clear this blog has had some stumbles. But I’m not ready to quit just yet. I still have too much interest in writing about Cornell and Ithaca to stop. We’ll see where things go from here.

A Brief Introduction

14 06 2013

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I figured that I would do two posts in the upcoming several days – one would be for the fifth anniversary of this blog, on the 18th.

The other, well…I decided that I might as well introduce myself. I’ve tried to write the history articles with an impartial view, because I always wanted the focus to be on the events themselves rather than the person writing them.  The Ithaca developments articles, I have my opinions as much as anyone, and I don’t shy away from expressing them, because whereas historical facts can be skewed and misinterpreted, the beauty of a built structure lies with the preferences of the viewer.

Earlier on, when I was a Cornell student, I had reasons to keep a low profile. I didn’t want my college, my major, or my affiliations to be things that people used to look for perceived bias when I wrote an entry. More importantly, a couple articles make references to my work at the Cornell Store and some of its procedures (ex. how it ran the daily gift card giveaway), which could have put my job at risk. I don’t know if any of my superiors ever came across this blog, though I assume they didn’t. However, the Quill and Dagger folks got up in arms about it, as did my editor at the Sun (this blog was hardly related to anything I wrote – I did the weather column for two years, before they ditched it the year after I graduated). If people had issues with things I did/wrote, it didn’t take long for them to find me. So the anonymity was always more of an image portrayed, rather than anything real. With that realization, my sentiments have been to acknowledge the blog if approached about it in email or in person, but most of my friends have no idea, a few even know of this blog but think the writer is someone else. Ithacating in Cornell Heights has never been something I’ve gone out of my way to promote.

On that note, that has always bothered me. I remember being at an alumni event about two years ago, where two other young alumni talked about how they started blogs, with the primary purpose being just to get their names out there, to yell just a little louder into the raucous crowd of the internet, as if that was something to put on a resume. “I am important, look at the important things I say”! That has never appealed to me. I’m not an attention seeker (which isn’t to say I don’t like receiving credit when credit is due), but I enjoy sharing Cornelliana and Ithacana on this blog, as a labor of love and devotion rather than self-promotion.

So it’s been almost 5 years. Might as well shake things up a bit.

Hi. My name is Brian Crandall. Thank you for dropping by this blog.

130 East Clinton Goes Even More Boxy

10 06 2013

Not much in the way of new and exciting to mention as of late – the last planning board meeting focuses on projects already covered here and on Ithaca Builds (Harold’s Square, The Purity Project, the Thurston Ave. Apts and Klarman Hall), and the town cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting, which is what happens when no one has anything that needs to go to the boards. Thankfully (from this perspective anyway) it is construction season, so much work is underway around-and-abouts.

One detail work noting and sharing is a redesign for the 130 East Clinton project, designed by Sharma architects on behalf of  steretoypical one-percenter Jason Fane and his real estate company. No longer does it have hipped roofs.




Apparently, the architects decided to go with the “box of boxes” look, with a little bright color on the extensions for a little character. The design before was traditional and rather bland. Now it’s more modern but still fairly bland. But it’s density in a growing downtown, so I’m not complaining.