Design Competition Announced for Collegetown Apartment Building

19 02 2015

12-29-2011 079

Back in August, I wrote a story about how a student competition was held in the early 1980s to design the mixed-use building currently standing at 409 College Avenue. It appears that someone liked the idea and decided to launch a competition of their own.

According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the competition is to design a replacement for 313-317 College Avenue, a property owned by local developer/landlord Lambrou Real Estate since the late 1970s. Cornellians of my late 2000s vintage will remember this building for housing Dino’s Bar and Grill. In previous years, it’s also held a grocer (1920s), a furniture store (1950s), a record store (1970s), and the Cosmopolitan Restaurant (1990s). Finding the original construction date of the building has been difficult (I’d guess ca. 1910, since it’s missing from this 1906 photo but it’s definitely an older style), and it appears substantial renovations occurred in the mid 1970s, likely the porthole windows on the fourth floor. Because of the heavy alterations borne by the storefronts and top floor over the years, the building has lost much of its historic value.

From a zoning standpoint, the building is in the densest Collegetown zone, MU-2. That entails a mandatory mixed-use component (usually interpreted as commercial space on the first floor), the building can occupy almost all the lot except for a rear setback of 10 feet, and no required parking. The building must be between 4 and 6 floors, and 45′-80′ tall, with a flat roof. 313-317 College already occupies most of its lot footprint, so the area of the new building wouldn’t be a big change, but the addition of a few more floors would make for a greater visual impact. More likely than not, there will be student apartments from floors 2-(4 or 5 or 6).

Speaking specifically about the competition, it’s open to any member of the Cornell community, student, faculty or staff, and has been underway for a couple weeks. Sketch plans were due Wednesday the 18th, final plans/schematics April 7th, and the winner will be announced May 17th. The call for proposals asks for sustainability as a design theme, so an emphasis on “green” features is expected in the submissions. The judges panel will consist of Lambrou Real Estate, AAP professors yet to be chosen, and Ithaca Student Housing, which is also staffed by the Lambrou Family (different branch maybe?). No word yet if there’s a cash prize for the winner.

Just like 409 College over 30 years ago, this is a win-win for everyone involved. The winner gets exposure and a pretty big project to claim on their resume. The Lambrous get a project at a fraction of the design cost of an architectural firm. I hope to see and share some of the proposals as they become available.



8 responses

19 02 2015

Longtime follower of your blog here: I am closely involved with this project you should know that it was your story from earlier that inspired this competition. Thank you for running such a great blog!

19 02 2015
B. C.

Wow, I’m honored. I sincerely am.

19 02 2015
C.J. Randall

I hope that the competition stressed reuse of the existing building shell…

19 02 2015

Well, at least it wont be another split faced masonry box from JS. Not that I am opposed to those buildings, but something different is needed.

19 02 2015
B. C.

Ha ha, I actually thought the same thing when I was writing up the article.

19 02 2015

Although it may no longer have historic value, this is still a nice looking old-fashioned building and it would be a shame to see it torn down in favor of something bland. It would be nice if the new design re-used and added onto the existing building, like the Carey Building project downtown.

19 02 2015

One thing can be certain. This project is going to need an abatement. We all know the difficulties encountered in Ithaca… the labor costs, the weather, the location, aliens.

Ferguson has laid it all out for any developer to use as justification.

27 02 2015
Cornell PhD

Have to say I’m with many of the other commenters here – however much the building has “lost historic value,” it’s not clear to me that it isn’t still as aesthetically appealing as any historic building in the area (I really like the porthole windows!) and hopefully will be incorporated into the new structure somehow.

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