Cornell Ag Quad Rehabilitation Construction Update, 7/2017

1 08 2017

If common spaces are what make or break a campus, then it’s a wonderful thing that Cornell hosts one of the best landscape architecture programs in the world.

With the new underground utilities in place, the remaining work is at or close to surface level. This includes the installation of new plazas, sidewalks, decorative pavers, concrete slab benches, stairwalls, bike racks and seeding. New lamp posts have been erected, a rain garden has been added, and new saplings (54 total) were planted to replace the trees lost to the utilities work. The sidewalks were widened to allow easier emergency access. The east half was finished this past fall, but the west half could only finish utilities work before winter put the kibosh on concrete pours and landscape work.

One of the goals of the refreshed ag quad is to make it a more inviting place to be during the warmer part of the year. By making use of removable furniture and adding seating areas along areas of high traffic and near buildings, the hope is that the space will be more lively and encourage social interaction among Cornell’s many students, faculty and staff. To be fair, it doesn’t look like a bad place to have an outdoor lunch.

At some point, the two temporary structures between Kennedy and Plant Science will make way for a new permanent structure; as for when that happens, your guess is as good as mine. The Pleasant Grove Apartments were built on North Campus as temporary housing after World War II and the influx of students on the GI Bill, but parts of the complex were maintained until the mid 1990s.

The $9.6 million project began last summer, and is scheduled for a completion before the 2017-18 academic year. MKW & Associates LLC of New Jersey is the lead landscape architect, Over & Under Piping Contractors Inc. of Auburn is the GC, and Albany-based CHA Consulting Inc. is providing civil engineering expertise. Background information on the project can be found here.





Cornell Ag Quad Rehabilitation Construction Update, 11/2016

21 11 2016

It’s that time of the month – construction updates will be forthcoming over the next several days.

On Cornell’s campus, work on the Ag Quad renovation continues. The eastern half of the quad, closer to Mann Library, is mostly complete – phase one of two. There weren’t as many underground utilities to lay in the eastern half, so it was able to progress more quickly, limiting the risk of running into winter. The new pavers are being set into place, and hay has been thrown down to keep the fresh soil and seed from blowing away, and to provide a warmer, moister environment for it to germinate in when the time comes. Those big holes behind the new seating area are for new trees that have yet to be planted – best practices state that trees are most likely to survive if planted in early spring.

Meanwhile, on the western half of the property, most of the new utilities (electrical, steam, sewer and water) have been laid, and new lamppost mounts are in place. According to a worker on-site, that metal structure in the third-to-last photo is a protective barrier to keep soil from falling back in onto workers as they assemble and lay the new utility lines. The precast concrete blocks in the second-to-last photo are protective covers for the new steam pipes. The pipes are laid, the protective barriers are put into place over them, and the channel is backfilled with soil to bring it to ground level. Cosmetic surface work on the western half of the Ag Quad will have to wait until next spring, when the threat of winter storms has passed.

The $9.6 million project began during the summer, and is scheduled for a completion before the 2017-18 academic year. MKW & Associates LLC of New Jersey is the lead landscape architect, Over & Under Piping Contractors Inc. of Auburn is the GC, and Albany-based CHA Consulting Inc. is providing civil engineering expertise. Background information on the project can be found here.

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Cornell Ag Quad Rehabilitation Construction Update, 9/2016

28 09 2016

Kinda outside the normal coverage, but an important project nevertheless. Cornell is currently undertaking a major rehabilitation of the CALS Quadrangle, better known as the “Ag Quad”. The $9.6 million “Ag Quad Utility Infrastructure Upgrades and Landscape Revitalization Project” (originally $7.8 million) began during the summer, and is scheduled for a completion before the 2017-18 academic year. Most of the construction is planned during the summer months of 2016 and 2017, when the ground is easier to work with and impact on campus activities is at a minimum.

According to university landscape architect David Cutter, the work has planned for at least a decade, but was a lower priority vs. other projects such as the Mann Library and Warren Hall renovations, which used the quad as a staging area. With the bulk of building renovations complete (a new academic building on the south side of the quad, but it’s just a hazy concept at this time), and with infrastructure approaching 100 years old, the university decided now was as good a time as any to get the rehab underway. Plans were approved by the Ithaca city Planning Board in February.

The first phase is what’s underway now. That involves the replacement of underground utilities infrastructure. In that catch-all are water pipes, sewer pipes, steam pipes, and a new ductbank (electrical conduit grouping) for telecommunications from the CIT Building. Several walkways have been excavated to make way for new or improved underground utilities corridors. The second phase is refreshed landscaping. Along with new permeable pavement walkways and entrance plazas in front of Roberts Hall and Mann Library come 54 new tree plantings, a rain garden, and upgraded lighting (from two poles to twenty). The plazas will come with movable tables and chairs, traditional benches and concrete slab benches (rough-hewn sides, cut/thermally-finished tops). For additional safety, the rehabbed quad will host collapsible bollards, an increased number of blue light security phones, and a new emergency vehicle path. Primary walkways will be 12′ wide, and secondary walkways 8′ wide. Some of the new garden spaces and landscaping will be done by students in various CALS programs.

The project has been the subject of relatively little controversy compared to most. Some consternation was expressed that four Cornellian cherry trees next to the west side of the Plant Science Building would be cut down for “infrastructure changes”, but other than that, there wasn’t much else in the way of concern or opposition. Eleven other trees are also or are being removed, so the net gain is 39.

The $9.6 million is coming mostly out of the university’s budget (CALS and Utilities), with some private funds. MKW & Associates LLC of New Jersey is the lead landscape architect, Over & Under Piping Contractors Inc. of Auburn is the GC, and Albany-based CHA Consulting Inc. is providing civil engineering expertise.

In the photos below, the new sanitary and steam pipes are being fed through a protective concrete threader, and new cobbled pavers being paid out in front of Mann. The rebar sticking out of the curved concrete in front of Mann is part of a bi-level concrete stairwall that will be capped with cut stone – my guess is the rebar is there to strengthen the concrete, and will be trimmed down once the concrete is fully cured and the project team is ready to move on to the next step. The metal tool on the left side of the last photo is a portable trench shield used for pipe installation.

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