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:





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).





Upson Hall Construction Update, 5/2017

22 05 2017

Home stretch for Upson Hall’s $74 million makeover. Nearly all of the turquoise water-resistive barrier (WRB) has been covered up with terracotta panels and aluminum inserts at this point.┬áThe utilities shaft and mechanical penthouse have been faced with a water resistant base layer and aluminum clips, and will be faced with grey metal panels. Note that those thin yellow aluminum plates on the exterior are a finished design featurethey’re intended to be a nod to the original canary yellow aluminum curtain bands that once lined Upson Hall’s facade. At this point, the upper three floors are occupied, the lower two floors and basement are being finished out, the exterior is nearly complete and interim landscaping features will be installed by The Pike Company before the building opens for full occupancy in August.

Over the next ten years, Cornell would like to utilize LTL Architects and Perkins + Will to redo the rest of the Engineering Quad with designs similar to Upson Hall. The $300 million plan also calls for the demolition of Carpenter Hall and a new multi-story building on the corner of Campus Road and College Avenue. Whether or not those things happen remains to be seen. The earliest renders of the Upson Hall plan are included at the end of this entry, and while the general design has remained the same, some of the design features, such as the shape of the bump-outs, the fenestration, and the emphasis on the south terrace were revised before the final plan was drafted.





Upson Hall Construction Update, 3/2017

29 03 2017

The new aluminum and terracotta facade is working its way down the lower floors. New window inserts and panels have been installed since the January update, although many sections are still bare, the turquoise water-resistive barrier the top layer for the time being. Slowly but surely, metal fasteners are being attached to the WRB, mineral wool insulation is attached, and the clips are completed with cross-sectional bars so that the terracotta can be put into place.

According to the last Upson construction update from Cornell Engineering, interior framing and drywall is underway on the lower floors, as well as new utilities rough-ins and mechanical piping. One can see a section of drywall through the new windows in the photos below.

The goal is to have the building completed by August, with temporary landscaping until the third phase has been funded. One has to applaud the Upson staff and students who have had to put up with the construction for what’s been almost two years at this point. The upper three floors were finished last summer, and the basement, first and second floors are being completed this year.





Upson Hall Construction Update, 1/2017

18 01 2017

It’s become a little more difficult to shoot photos from certain angles, now that one of the previously-open sidewalks has been closed off. But, it’s not a surprise, they’ve been working on Upson’s new face. The exterior stud framing has been underway on the lowest floors of the west face. Sheathing is being attached, and the rough openings indicate future windows. The lowest floors of the east side, a little further along, have already been coated in turquoise waterproofing material, and are being fitted with windows. On the upper floors, there’s been considerable progress with the terra-cotta and the aluminum surrounds. It doesn’t look like there’s been much progress with attaching new mineral wool and clips, the current work is either finishing up what was well-underway (the upper floors), or getting started with the new exterior (the lower floors), not a whole lot of work going for the in-between stages at the moment.

Inside, you can see the new interior framing being built inside the fully-gutted and renovated interior. According to Cornell’s last update in December, interior demolitions are complete, mechanical rough-ins are ongoing in the basement, and electrical and plumbing are underway on the first and second floors.

Like Gannett, The Pike Company is the general contractor in charge. LTL Architects and Perkins+Will are in charge of design.

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 11/2016

22 11 2016

Because of the multi-phased, tiered buildout of Upson Hall’s renovation, it’s easy to miss the changes. For example, in the first photo, there really haven’t been any exterior changes to the fourth or fifth floor, but on the third floor, there’s been significant progress – the old stone has been removed, the new stud walls have been erected, gypsum-based glass mat sheathing has been laid and waterproofed, and new windows have been fitted. You can see the latest batch of exterior wall progress on the third floor of the west face, third photo below. The first and second floors have had their old exteriors stripped as well, but at the moment the frame is exposed. The interior has been gutted and new utilities rough-ins are being routed.

On the side facing the Engineering Quad, the progress has been similar – the third floor has seen the most work recently as the renovations work their way from top to bottom. Turning to the east face, sheathing extends to the bottom floor, and it looks like an aluminum roof cap has been installed on the new bump-out. The general contractor for Upson is The Pike Company, which is touting the project with computer-generated images of construction staging on its front webpage.
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Upson Hall Construction Update, 9/2016

2 10 2016

Work on the upper levels is progressing. Slowly but steadily, mineral wool is being laid and aluminum clips are being installed for the terra cotta panels. It looks like the most progress has been made on the east facade. The windows in the bump-outs have received aluminum trim. Although the project update page hasn’t had a fresh post since early August, the upper floors (3-5) should be occupied by this point and many of the utilities systems have been overhauled. Most of the interior work is now focused on the lower levels (Basement, and Floors 1 and 2). The Pike Company of Rochester will continue the interior renovations during the academic year, but as long as all goes to plan, the building should be wrapped up by August (landscaping is another matter).

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 7/2016

1 08 2016

There are two different facade installations going on here – the terracotta, and the aluminum. For the terracotta, the process goes like this. First, we have the gypsum sheathing, coated with a turquoise-colored water-resistive barrier. The ends of the aluminum clips are installed onto the sheathing, and then mineral wool insulation is attached between the clip. Then, the rest of the aluminum clip is attached over the mineral wool. From there, terracotta panels are hung up and secured to the clips. The aluminum window surrounds don’t need this type of work, so the panels are just hung as-is over the sheathing.

According to Cornell’s Upson Hall webpage, Phase I is nearing completion at this point. That means that floors 3, 4 and 5 are nearly finished inside and out, and work will shift towards the basement, the first and second floor. Some work has already been done in the basement with utility and infrastructure upgrades. It’s really quite a feat that the building is continues to be occupied while all the construction is going on, the work split between the top half and bottom half. Also, kudos to the faculty, staff and students who have to put up with the noise and multiple moves while the work takes place. The fully-renovated Upson Hall should be ready by next August.

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 3/2016

28 03 2016

This one’s short and sweet for the moment due to time constraints. A generalized description of the latest progress can be found on the Voice here, and Cornell’s bi-weekly progress report is here. A more thorough rundown was given in January’s update here.

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 1/2016

13 01 2016

Upson Hall’s bright turquoise walls stand out among the winter greys. Students and staff can thank (or curse) the spray-on moisture barrier for the splash of color. To see what the sheathing looks like without the barrier, photo #9 below shows a little bit of the white gypsum board in the upper left, near the southwest corner of Upson.

The unsheathed, unsprayed section on the northeast corner remains uncovered so that the new structural steel for the bump-out can be erected, while the steel for the northwest bump-out has already been assembled and installed. The plastic is still up over the exterior walls, keeping the winter winds at bay.

According to the project website, general contractor The Pike Company (Rochester office) is cutting/coring shafts through the first floor to the fifth floor, and demolition activities are underway in the basement. The shafts not only serve as ingress/egress, they’re designed to serve as social spaces and integrate the floors of the building. Utilities rough-ins, framing and drywall installation are underway on the upper three floors where interior work is further along, while work on the first and second floors won’t begin major work until August 2016. Part of the basement will be finished in the first year of construction, and the rest of the basement in the second year. Basically, half the building is still occupied at any given time during construction.

The $74.5 million dollar project is part of a larger series of renovations to the Engineering Quad that will result in $300 million in improvements over a decade. While the project will only add about 4,000 SF to the 156,000 SF building, the renovation are expected to help the engineering school adapt to changing academic space needs and technology, and make the building much more energy efficient. The college is paying for the project with a mix of philanthropy and operating funds. A full FAQ is available on Cornell Engineering’s website here.

Along with Cornell’s internal project management team, the project is designed by New York City firms LTL Architects, Perkins+Will, and Thornton Tomasetti.

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