Cornell Law School Renovation Update, 9/2017

30 09 2017

It appears the loggia has been enclosed at the Cornell law school. The fence is down, the landscaping is in place, and apart from some exterior finishing work, that portion of the renovation is complete. The new glazing works well with the collegiate Gothic architecture.

The new west stairwell has yet to be installed, with some plastic sheeting serving as an exterior membrane for the time being. With the old exterior wall removed, installation of the structural frame is likely to start soon, and it seems plausible that Welliver and Cornell would like to have the new stairwell closed up before winter comes. From the inside, it looks like some of the new office and academic space has been completed, while the southwest wing remains in the interior framing stage, with some metal wall studs visible through the hazy plastic sheet separating the construction area from the finished spaces.





Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 9/2017

29 09 2017

After two years of updates, the vet school expansion is practically finished. The exterior finishes are complete, and the Flower-Sprecher library is stocked with bookcases and workstations. Final landscaping and interior finish work appears to be all that is left on the agenda. According to a construction update from the Vet School, the academic spaces officially opened for academic use on September 11th. The exterior landscaping will be finished by October 1st, and offices and labs will be fitted out from now through December. The interior atrium is certainly cavernous and imposing, and it’s a shame the doors were locked during this past weekend’s visit.

The veterinary complex has never been an especially attractive group of structures, and the expansion project, designed by Weiss/Manfredi of New York, manages to add a modern update without being ostentatious. The boost in class sizes will give more students (120 per class, vs the current 102) a chance at Cornell’s quality veterinary education, and the growth provides fringe economic benefits for the Ithaca area as well. The new lecture halls, tutorial and surgery areas will no doubt be put to good use educating students and serving the community at large.

If I want to mark one concerning note, and be the obnoxious discriminating alum at the same time, I could point out that it appears that what was once the #1 vet school in the country is no longer #1 – UC Davis, whose student population is nearly 25% larger, is the new gold standard. So I suppose alumni could take to arguing over where the vet school’s resources would be better used. But, I study puffy clouds and cow farts for a living, and vet school politics is a debate outside this blog’s scope.

While this is the last update for the expansion, the new $7 million, 12,000 SF Community Practice Service Building will continue to use the same tags and headings, since the projects, though separate, have always been included in the same update posts. At this time, general contractor G. M. Crisalli & Associates has completed the foundation and underground utilities, and is erecting the wood framing for the walls of the one-story building. It looks like the front entrance area uses structural steel framing as a canopy. Sections of plywood sheathing are also up, and it looks like they may be planning to use a form of housewrap. A bit surprised they didn’t spring for ZIP panels, but each barrier has its pros and cons.  Some interior stud walls have also been assembled. The front sidewalks have already been poured and the curbing extruded, which seems reasonable as heavy equipment enters and exits from the other side of the construction site. The new CPS Building, designed by local firm HOLT Architects, should be open by May 2018.

Old:

New:





Upson Hall Construction Update, 9/2017

26 09 2017

Upson Hall’s renovation is complete. The building became fully re-occupied as of August 22nd, per the Cornell Daily Sun. It’s been a long time coming. Two phases, 27 months, $74.5 million invested. One supposes that staying cutting edge in engineering requires a certain investment in cutting-edge labs and equipment.

The interior is certainly impressive with its airy, industrial feel. The interior fit and finish appeared impressive, Cornell getting their money’s worth. However, on the outside the quality of Upson’s appearance is diminished somewhat by the puckered seams and slight imperfections of the aluminum panels on the stairwells/elevator cores.

To be totally honest, I was more a fan of the old Upson’s clean modernist lines. Certainly the interior needed work, but this just looks…gimmicky? I dunno how well it’ll age on the outside, but hopefully the inside will lend itself to creating exciting engineering feats and technological advances.

New York’s LTL Architects and engineering firm Thornton-Tomasetti were the primary architects and engineers for the project, assisted by the original architecture firm for the building, Perkins + Will. The landscaping, which will be finished at a later date, was designed by local firm TWMLA. The Pike Company served as the general contractor for the project.

Before (from 2008/2009):

After:





209-215 Dryden Road Construction Update, 8/2017

19 08 2017

The Breazzano Center is occupied, so for practical purposes this project is complete. The interior and exterior finish work is wrapping up (interior moldings, some cosmetic exterior panels), and it looks like the new street seating, curbing and bike racks are in – the development team may hold off on plantings until next spring, depending on how well the project team thinks the new landscaping will grow in to its new environment, and by extension, its ability to withstand the winter months.

The interior is relatively dramatic for an office and academic building. There’s lots of natural light thanks to the glass curtain wall, the natural wood paneling gives it a warmer look, and the lighting underneath the staircases in the multistory atrium is a nice touch. If I have any interior critique, it’s that there’s so much transparent glass and bright light, it can feel a little disorienting, creating a feeling of space that makes the 76,000 SF building seem much larger than it is. Some of the breakout rooms and one of the tiered large-group classrooms are also included in the photos below.

The exterior is a big change of pace from the CMU-faced residential buildings (much of it from Jagat Sharma’s hand) that define much of Collegetown. The glass curtain wall is unique, for the time being. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the aluminum panels on the sides and rear, though I recognize the cost utility provided, and necessary protection of certain interior spaces like the broadcast studio on the fourth floor.

Speaking to some construction workers on-site (the same ones who kindly gestured me to go in and take a look), they were uncertain when construction would start on Novarr’s complementary 24-unit apartment building at 238 Linden Avenue next door. But a timeline from April suggests next month, with completion next summer. That sounds reasonable – finish with one building, transition immediately to the next. Work on Novarr’s 119-125 College Avenue townhouse project has yet to start either; it appears to be a makeshift parking lot for construction crews and company trucks.

Overall, it seems the recent work in this part of Collegetown and Ithaca is a net positive. With projects like the Breazzano, 238 Linden and Dryden South, within just a few years, a corner of Ithaca that once housed a few student-oriented businesses and mostly-rundown/vacant apartments will have been replaced with dozens of beds, office space for hundreds of Cornell staff, and classrooms for deep-pocketed students who visit for only a few weeks a year. Plus, it adds up to an additional $15 million or so in taxable property (and that’s accounting for the reduction as a result of the Tompkins County IDA PILOT agreement).  There’s a clear financial benefit to Collegetown business owners and to the city. Add an aesthetic bonus point for removing the power poles and shifting moving the electrical utilities underground.

The $15.9 million project will be 100% occupied by Cornell on a 50-year lease. Hayner Hoyt Corporation of Syracuse is the general contractor.

Before:

After:

 

The wording on these sheets conjures images of a stuffy, tense maître d’ addressing his staff.





Cornell Law School Renovation Update, 7/2017

31 07 2017

On the outside, progress is modest – the windows and CMUs from the upper floors have been removed from the west face to make way for the future glass-encased stairwell. The steel beams sitting in the staging area are part of the Certainteed Drywall Suspension System and will be used in the construction of the new ceilings in the gutted interior, although some of the different gauges present may also be used for interior wall framing. There has been no visible progress on enclosing the loggia yet.





Upson Hall Construction Update, 7/2017

28 07 2017

Cornell has several projects that are finishing up within the same short time frame. The renovation of Upson Hall will be one of them. Some of the Morin aluminum panels have yet to be clipped over the mineral wool, but the exterior is largely finished. It appears that the ribbing in the terra cotta panels becomes gradually finer from bottom to top. Interior work is still ongoing, from the windows it appears that drywall has been hung, but finishing work, such as interior railings, remains to be done.

The timeline is to have the second phase completed by August, with an eventual third phase that will upgrade the landscaping from simple sidewalks and green space to more complex plaza areas with pavers, stone and wood benches and lighting effects. Given future plans to upgrade the Engineering Quad, the presence of heavy equipment and staging areas close by if not reused means that Cornell prefers to wait until all work is done on the buildings before upgrading the grounds (consider the Ag Quad for example).





Gannett Health Center Construction Update, 7/2017

27 07 2017

Here are the rest of the photos from the Cornell Health, formerly known as Gannett Health Center. The Voice write-up is here. The project is mostly complete, with some sidewalk and landscaping yet to be completed (the official timeline has the project wrapping up in October, but given the stocked pharmacy and furnished lobby, the project is practically complete from this blog’s perspective). Look for a potential final Voice article later in the fall, as part of an official tour of the building around the time of the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

On a personal note, I want to briefly send my apologies for the slow updates; I’ve been dealing with a personal loss, and their passing hit me harder than I anticipated. It’s also been a very slow week news-wise, so don’t expect a weekly news round-up tomorrow evening.