The Cornell Fine Arts Library

6 05 2015


Here we go, renders of the Cornell Fine Arts Library, courtesy of the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council (ILPC) Agenda. Additional renders here, project narrative here. Apparently, the ILPC does get to review the addition, although looking at the agenda for the 14th, it doesn’t look like they’re making any decisions (and being just outside the Arts Quad Historic District, they may not be able to).


Quoting the front page of the narrative, “rather than acting as a physical symbol, it radiates activity and occupation”. The university wanted the new superstructure, which they’re calling a “lantern”, to be as visible as possible from campus entry points, and it is claimed that the addition will bring “distinction and excellence to the campus”.


The building will have two entrances, one public and one for AAP only. The interior will consist of four levels of mezzanine shelving for the Fine Arts Library’s collection, as well as interspersed work/study spaces. Floor-to-ceiling space will range from 48 feet on the north side of the reading room to 7.5 feet in some sections of the library stacks. Long, unobstructed hallways will run the length of Rand Hall. The large variation is meant to convey both grand spaces and “private engagement” with the books. The lantern will have a catwalk as well as working spaces.


The design replaces Rand’s multi-pane daylight-factory windows with single panes, removes the east stairwell, and is purposely designed to overhang above Rand, acting as a sort of canopy for rain and sunlight protection.


As previously covered, the architect is a Cornell alum, Vienna-based Wolfgang Tschapeller M.A. ’87. More of Tschapeller’s very avant-garde designs can be found at his website here. The project is being funded in part by a multi-million dollar donation from Cornell alumna, architect and UC-Berkeley professor Mui Ho ’62 B. Arch ’66. No construction time frame or total cost have been given at this time.

I’ll call a spade a spade. Rand Hall is getting an ugly hat. One that the rest of campus will be subjected to looking at for years to come.





8 responses

6 05 2015

Uhhh, no thanks, especially the exterior.

6 05 2015
B. C.

I’ll be honest – I despise this proposal.

6 05 2015

The interior is definitely amazing. Wondering what the “hat” is actually going to be used for… if that’s an open rooftop for the public to go out on I’ll deal with the ostentatiousness of the altitude.

6 05 2015
B. C.

Workspaces and a “catwalk”, according to the narrative.

9 05 2015
Cornell PhD

I’m with the others here. Would be great to get the ethereal interior without the ugly “hat”. The only question then is…where would all the workspace go? Would Cornell architecture need to put up yet another starchitectural controversy?

13 05 2015

Ugh, this design is terrible. Not only does the “hat” clash horribly with the rest of the building, removing the subdivided panes from the windows will ruin the historical appeal of the facade and make it yet another dehumanizing postmodern wall of glass. The interior space looks cool, but I suspect it will be wildly impractical for use as a library, since sound will echo forever in that huge open space surrounded by hard metal and glass surfaces.

13 05 2015
More problems with Cornell’s Fine Arts Library proposal | Jonathan Ochshorn

[…] Not only does the entire leading edge of the second floor stack area appear to be a “protruding object,” but the architects appear to have configured these surfaces with a knife-edge geometry (photo screen-captured from a rendering linked from Ithacating in Cornell Heights) […]

18 06 2015
Seven Years Later | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] Over at Cornell, the Hotel School finished their new entrance and addition, the Gannett expansion started construction, Klarman Hall continued to plod towards completion, and the “Sesquicentennial Grove” was planted. Cornell announced plans to renovate Upson Hall and Rand Hall. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: