Downtown Ithaca Wants to Look More Like Sweden

10 02 2010

These days, and “progressive” urban development scheme starts with a much publicized and criticized plan. Ithaca, being that little bastion of liberal progressiveness, launched its own plan 18 months ago, and now the Downtown Ithaca Alliance has decided to share the fruits of its planning process for public input. The original plan can be obtained here.

The plan is a vision for downtown Ithaca in 2020. Ignoring the fact they spent a year and a half to discuss a vision ten years away, the plan has some merits and some lovely little conceptual drawings. Which I’m convinced were designed by someone who has a fascination for modern Scandinavian architecture.

The plan itself asks for an additional 200,000 square feet of office space, 500 residential units and more pedestrian traffic for retail outlets in the downtown area. Fitting these components in, along with staying within the city’s rather stringent zoning, is no easy task. Some of the other assets the Alliance would like to see downtown are a combined city-county building, a teen activities center and a fixed-rail trolley line.

First of all, good luck with the trolley line. The original line that went up East State Street and behind Cascadilla Hall closed in 1935. Putting a new one in within the next decade is a pipe dream because of the sheer financial costs associated with infrastructure implementation. Long story short, no one has the cash to put in a new fixed-rail line.

Some of the desired developments I am quite fond of. The conceptual drawing above is for a parking lot near the Cornell Daily Sun Building on West State Street. It’s a great redevelopment that looks to be a mid-size residential or commercial structure that stands out, but not ostentatiously, from the streetscape. The architecture seems to be modernist/International style with a couple historical throwbacks such as the cornice on the background building. To be honest, something like that would fit in well with Weill Hall as a future building at Cornell.

Inversely, this I despise wholeheartedly. This is a conceptual drawing for the city-county building. I never cared for the whole “ooh, let’s be edgy and not align the windows” theme, which was used on the West Campus Dorms. It’s like architecture by first graders. The space is a current parking lot next to Ithaca City Hall, which is actually the brown brick building in back.  The idea of developing this lot, I give a big thumbs up. Right now, I’m glad this is only a conceptual drawing.

I cannot stress how much I am a fan of the redevelopment of the Trebloc Building. First, let’s see if I actually bothered to take a photo of the current architectural turd:

It was in the shot unintentionally. For perspective, I took this photo on the corner of the intersection shown in the conceptual drawing. This brick POS is in the middle of Ithaca’s downtown. This building was built in 1974 as part of the urban renewal era, and was originally meant to be 2 floors, but the developers then decided to not add the second floor. It has also been the sight of multiple concepts, such as this proposal by Andrew Wetzler. The DIA suggests a 100,000+ square foot office building for the site; if it occupied the full site, this translates to about four of five floors. I keep my fingers crossed this may be redeveloped someday.

This redevelopment concept is for the parking area/ back of the Ithaca Journal Building. It’s a residential proposal that fits in somewhat to current zoning; the downtown plan does propose some minor height changes on some parcels, about a dozen going from 60 to 85 feet if certain incentives, such as affordable housing, are met. Love the idea, could care less for the design. This building looks like something out of my nightmares.

In the past year or so, a proposal was submitted to the RestoreNY program to redevelop the one-story Night and Day Building into a five-story building. Well, the proposal wasn’t accepted, but the vision is still there. This conceptual design makes use of the false second floor and adds affordable housing to the structure. Hell, I give it a thumbs up. If only a developer could make the project feasible.

For perspective, we’re looking east from the Holiday Inn, towards the new parking garage. This is one of the largest conceptual proposals, for a site currently used by a couple of small businesses and part of Pritchard Autos (where I once went as part of a project on EPA mileages; the owner, a 70-something man named Bill Pritchard, was super friendly). The project gets away with being so large because it is next to a massive parking garage and a ten-story hotel, so massing is appropriate for this area.

They may just be visions, but I would be just as excited as the DIA if these were to become real proposals in the years ahead. One can only hope.

Ithaca College Master Plan

21 08 2008

So, I know recently I devoted five entries and several hours of my life to coverage of the Cornell Master Plan. But, while I back the Big Red in the spotlight, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give a little attention to the neighbors on South Hill.

Ithaca College has also completed a master plan, created by Sasaki Associates and finalized in September 2002 [1]. The plan is available for perusing online, but it comes in a rather crappy resolution pdf that makes it almost impossible to pick out some of the finer features. But, let’s give it a try anyway.

Note one thing as we glance through this: The Park Business School (architect Rober A.M. Stern) , the Gateway Center (HOLT architects), and the new Athletic Center have been recently built or are currently underway in some stage of approval or construction.

Park Business School (L) Gateway Center (R)

So, a brief history on the physical plant of Ithaca College; the first five dorms and the student union were built in 1961 (previously, the college occupied rented spaces in downtown Ithaca; classes were taught in the dorms and union from 1961-63). The first academic building, Friends Hall (it was paid for by the organization Friends of Ithaca College), was built in 1963. Five more residence halls and a health center were completed by the end of the year.

A little side note; for those unaware of the living arrangements of Ithaca College, it is an all-residential college, meaning that with the exception of seniors who choose to do so, all housing is on-campus. So they have more dorms than we at Cornell would be likely to suspect.

The campus expanded rapidly in the late 1960s, but saw very little construction in the 1970s, with the exception of a few smaller projects at the beginning of the decade and the end of the decade. The next wave of construction began with Smiddy Hall, which was completed in 1981. Ithaca College tends to play favorites with architects; Tallman & Tallman designed their first twenty or so buildings up to 1971, and then with a few exceptions, HOLT architects has designed most of the rest since the mid-1980s.

Go on and tell me the sixties weren't a bad decade for architectural design. I'm all ears for any justification.

Go on and tell me the sixties weren’t a bad decade for architectural design. I’m all ears for any justification.

The master plan identifies the need for about 170,000 sq. ft of office space immediately, and another 200 parking spaces. It also says that despite the stunning local topography, that the campus’s open spaces fail to utilize the area properly and are unmemorable as a result.

In the Ithaca College master plan, new development is identified in a darker shade of orange, as compared to the lighter shade used to denote existing buildings in 2002.

One of the goals of the plan is to have everything on central campus within a 10-minte walk from any given location. As a result of this pursued ideal, the central campus is much denser.

The total academic/office space to be built is around 500,000 square feet, with an additional 380,000 sqaure feet of additional dorm space.

The central campus also features a “main street” connecting many of the important area of the campus.

In case anyone’s wondering, here’s a massing of the new athletic center in its location next to the rest of the campus:

So, it’s towards the Cornell-far-side, but I still think that due to its massive size, Collegetown residents will still be able to pick it out on the southern skyline.

So while we have our plans going to work, IC’s already implemented theirs and has been trying to meet their goals for a little while now. Here’s hoping that the plan is as successful as they hope it will be.

P.S. I wanted to write about the IJ article extending the Collegetown moratorium and limiting building heights even further in Collegetown (on the five or six parcels that would’ve actually been raised), but I’ve just decided that councilwoman Mary Tomlan isn’t worth the time and effort of deriding her as a backwards-thinking malcontent.






The Cornell Master Plan, Part 5 of 5

10 08 2008

Well, it’s about time I wrap this up. I meant to do this a little earlier, but I became a little sick towards the end of last week, so feeling better was more important than maintaining the IiCH blog.

The Cornell Heights precinct sees change listed under the “although no specific development sites have been identified, additional development may be considered on and(sic) case-by-case basis.” Since this is a nationally-recognized histroic district, I wouldn’t expect anything out of character with the current sttuctures in the neighborhood.

Also, to tie this in with the disppearing suspension bridge incident, the image above has also apparently washed out the Stewart Avenue bridge, making it more likely it was just some half-fast work on the image.

For North Campus proper, there are some notable, but not really controversial changes in the physical plant. The only thing currently underway is the $15 million renovation expansion of Helen Newman designed by architectural firm Dagit-Saylor (they also designed Appel Commons[1]). If the site ever goes back online, you can view the exterior plans for the expansion at this website:

Some of the propsed changes include developing the CC parking lot into dorms, replacing the townhouses with a different set of dorms, and replacing Hasbrouck with some other form of housing. A new dorm would also be built across from the north-facing corner of RPU. I don’t hold much weight for plans for North Campus, probably because the plan developed by Richard Meier in the ’80s was eventually dropped[2], and Cornell just seems to decide spur-of-the-moment what will be built.

The plan suggests that dorm plans be two to four floors in height, but higher heights may be considered depending on the location. The hodge-podge necessitates that new constructions manage to make the North Campus more cohesive without interrupting intuitive pedestrian traffic flow. Which is big and fancy language just to say that it shouldn’t make getting around North more difficult than it already is.

I look at the designs for the more cluster-style developed to reaplce the townhouses and Hasbrouck, and I see a lot of opprotunities to name buildings. I’m sure Cornell could tote that to wealthy alumni that for only $3 million or $5 million, you could get a ten-unit dorm on North named after you. But, they didn’t really do it with the low-rise/high-rises, so they might just leave them nameless. Regardless, it seems rather poor planning that the townhouses, which were built as upperclassmen housing in 1989, would be torn down so soon. More athletic fields would be developed on the sapce freed up by the demolition of Hasbrouck, and some intersections would be realigned to better define the area and improve traffic flow. The idea is thrown out there that further development on Jessup Road have a “main street” character to it.

As for Collegetown, relatively little is mentioned. The plan hinges more on the recommendations of the Collegetown Vision Statement and finalized plan to be released in October of this year. The two primary itmes that are suggested are preserving the housing stock on Linden Avenue, and creating a pedestrian bridge from Eddygate and across the gorge to South Avenue. As someone who frequently commuted between Edgemoor Lane and Cascadilla last year, it wouls have been wonderful if this bridge has existed already. It was a little annoying that to walk a thousand feet as the crow flies, I had to walk up to College Avenue, cross that bridge, and then go down the steep and often icy hill next to the law school. A bridge from Eddygate to South Ave. would have been really nice, and it would definitely serve to make the neighborhood more cohesive with the far southwest portion of campus.


However, plans for a “South Campus” between Maplewood Park and East Hill are extensive. The area is devided into three zones- Maplewood, East Hill Village, and Cornell Park.

In the Maplewood Zone, the Maplewood Park Apartments are entirely replaced with “higher-quality”, more cohesive development. A site for townhouses also exists to the east of Maplewood Park. These areas are expected to be developed in the short-term (perhaps some of the $20 million Cornell is giving to Ithaca for affordable housing should go here?).

The total developed square footage will be between 450,000 and 1,000,000 sq. ft. With 240-480 residential units in the zone.

East Hill Village is an entirely different animal than its predecessor. The East Hill Plaza we currently know is essentially a strip mall, some apartments and a few outlying retail and office buildings (and Oxley Equestrian Center, if you count that). The plan wants to change that.

The area typifies a New Urbanism style development. Mixed-use buildings with an internal grid define most of East Hill Village. Active-use structures, like a grocery store, restaurants and retail stores are encouraged on the street level, with residential and/or office uses on the upper floors.


Meanwhile, the little-used fields to the east of East Hill become the site for Cornell’s new athletic fields and facilities (Ellis Hollow Athletic Complex). The park itself might be a large lawn or meadow that is used for general recreation or as a concert venue.

Cornell has big plans and big dreams. However, like any plan, conditions and preferences might change, so it would be unwise to consider everything to be set in stone. Still, it’s interesting that our insitution has such grand aspirations.









Cornell Master Plan, Part 4 of 5

2 08 2008

Now that I’ve said my piece on the East Campus redevelopment, I’m going to move into the far east campus towards the vet school.

Precinct 9 is referred to in the master plan as the Judd Falls Precinct. For those of you who have never gone out towards the vet school for anything other than a prelim, Judd Falls is the name of the north-south road that passes through here, hence the name. The areas is home to some greenhouses, the U.S. Soils Lab (and its $51 million planned addition, to be completed in 2013 [1]), and Morrison Hall. The hideous piece of architecture known as the Boyce Thompson Institute (1978 ) also stands in this area.

Now, this area is almost wholly used for CALS and vet school activities. For the rest of us, it’s a relative dead zone; you’ll go to the Dairy Bar once in your time at Cornell just for the hell of it, decide its too far out from everything and not come back except for the rare event your exam was shoved in here because this was the only space available (you wanted the Statler Aud for your exam room, but you’ll be sweating it out in Morrison).

The plan to redevelop it is a praiseworthy one. Several buildings would be developed, and the area seems to be much more integrated into the rest of campus.

Because of the relative lack of use of this area, and its underdevelopment, the architects/design teams will have carte blanche to do as they wish with any future properties in this precinct. As a result, Morrison would see the wrecking ball; for some demonic reason, they decided to leave the wound on campus that is BTI. Seriously, it makes even Uris look attractive.

Photo obtained from facilities website

Photo obtained from facilities website

And this is the attractive side.

The buildings designed in the Judd Falls area should all maintain the same architectural style to enhance uniformity in the area. Considering its just a mish-mash of styles now, it would be interesting to see how this turns out. Lobby areas would be glassy and transparent. Total development space would be between 730,000 nd 1.33 million sq ft, and the buildings would average four floors (56 ft.) in height, give or take a floor. If they were to develop here, my personal hope would be that other academic uses are considered; moving some of the other departments out a little farther to fill up these buildings, perhaps. Or secondary space for the East Campus.

Precinct 10 is referred to as the Vet Quad. The new Vet Quad occupies an area dominated at the current time by parking lots; as the general rule seems to be in the Master Plan, parking lots should be hidden underground whenever possible, so this would never fit in if they didn’t do something with it.

A large building occupies the eastern end, possibly a centerpiece building to serve as an administrative building with some academic use mixed in. The building to the northeast is already under construction, an $80.5 million, 126,000 sq. ft Animal Diagnostic Hospital [2].

I like the plan here, for the most part. I feel it provides a dingified entryway for those coming into the university from the east, along Rt. 366. I’m not as fond of the random building they shoved in front of the animal hospital, because it strikes me as not being the best place to place another building and make the vet complex even more difficult to navigate than it already is. Things started to get confusing with Schurman Hall, and with the Vet Tower, Hospital and new wing, it’s just difficult to navigate within the Vet School (I for one became lost while trying to cut through to make it to a charity XC race on the other side of the vet school property). The total amount of space developed here would be between 400,000 and 700,000 sq. ft.

No surprise, but West Campus has no identified development parcels and the plan suggests treating developments here on a case-by-case basis. It also suggests restoring the cemetery, which I find humorous in a punny sort of way (restore the cemetery eh? Well, go to the morgue and pick up some shovels on the way over…). Yes, I’m aware that it actually means plantings and headstones.

Part 5 will cover Cornell’s New Urbanist development and North Campus. To be continued…



The Cornell Master Plan, Part 3 of 5

27 07 2008

So, picking up where we left off, we’ll be covering some of the more eye-opening parts of the Core Campus master plan.

So, this is one of the brand new ideas being churned out by the brains designing the master plan. Precinct 7 is known as the Alumni Quad (my brown-nosing sensors are going off). As most may be aware, the alumni quad is currently the site of the atheltic fields (Robison). A new road (Rice Drive) is built where the western edge of the track currently sits, and so Friedman Wrestling Center ends up sitting at an intersection. The proposed mid-campus walk runs through the alumni quad, and renovation of Schoellkopf’s facilities are suggested to accomodate some of the athletic uses lost due to the elimination of the track. Additional facilities would be built at Kite Hill (which even I have barely heard of).

Apparently, the master plan thought it would be pretty cool to put Schoellkopf’s parking lot underground and build athletic facilities (not to mention their would be a huge parking lot below the alumni quad). I wish them the best of luck, because with all of their planned subterranean parking, I’m sure hell will be raised at some point (ex. safety concerns).

Like with the building planned for Day Hall’s site, they gave one of the two new buildings defining the quad an odd footprint to minimize its usage of space. their goal in the design of this quad was to break up the density between the ILR-Biology Quad area and the proposed East Campus. Also, it would appaear that whatever that is planned next to Wilson Lab is currently in currently underway at some level, and another building, the 16,000 sq. ft addition to the heating plant, is also shown to be underway at the edge of the slide. The other building appears to be an addition to Friedman, which is quite curious considering Friedman is less than six years old [1]. Neither building would be more than a couple of floors, with a sq. footage between 37,000 and 93,000 sq. ft. total.

here’s my one minor critique; the backside of Bartels, which would be facing this quad, is neither interesting nor visually appealing. unless some renovation of the backside is planned, I’m not sure I would want that fronting the new campus green space. You might just as well but up a stone fence on the entire southern edge.

I look at precinct 8 and I don’t even know where to start. The proposed east center is a very large, massive set of new facilities that by any guess would run into the billions.

Footprint-wise, the area East Campus would cover is the area from the track field to Judd Falls Road, which is the next intersection just beyond the Dairy Bar. That’s a fairly large chunk of real estate. Withthe exception of the historical front portions of Stocking Hall and Wing Hall, all other current structures in that area would be demolished to make way for the new complex.

Most of the ten buildings in the complex have large footprints, and four of them feature tall, slender towers of slightly varying heights. Even before checking the parcel listings, you can look at the elevations and determine that they are slightly taller than Bradfield. With four to five story buildings on its perimeter, the place would be built up like a fortress, yet they try to maintain spaces between the buildings “to maintain porosity”.

Now, I remember hearing on one occasion that after the monstrosity of Bradfield Hall, Tompkins County would never allow any more tall buildings to be built on Cornell Campus. But, I’ve yet to see anything distinctly say as much, and I doubt that Tompkins County could reasonably exclude tall structures as long as they are not in the way of takeoff or landing patterns over at the airport. If you never noticed, look up at Bradfield during the night, and you’ll see the red warning lights on the roof to warn planes of its presence.

This isn’t the first time a building taller than Bradfield has been proposed either.  Fomr Blake Gumprecht’s Fraternity Row and Collegetown study (he studied Cornell for his research):

“Collegetown has undergone profound changes over the last quarter century.City officials began to press for the redevelopment of the neighborhood in 1968. The following year, a city-sponsored urban renewal plan called for theheart of Collegetown to be demolished and replaced with a massive, multipurpose development. It recommended construction of a large building on College Avenue that would include 375 apartments, 600 parking spaces, retail on the first and second floors, two movie theaters, a restaurant, and nine floorsof office space. It also called for the construction of six to eight high-rise apartment towers, the tallest eighteen to twenty-one stories. The plan went nowhere [2].”

The master plan states that the buildings would consist of classrooms and academic space on lower floors and residential/dorm space in the residential towers. Although I applaud the concept of “mixed-use”, I’m not exactly sure how well the idea would go over with the potential residents. However, it would seem the residential towers are meant for grad students, post-docs and professors. I’m not sure if this sounds more like an educational area or a self-enclosed research facility (I would sit back and watch as the city starts demanding taxes on it because they come to the same conclusion). The ground floors of the  building would have restaurants and cafes, and lounge spaces; the intention is for this area to be a vibrant 24-hour space. I would hope that all of the eating areas wouldn’t all be run my Cornell dining- the same set of baked goods and drinks gets real old, real fast.

There would be 85 to 120 units per resident building. Take that through eight to ten floors, and you have ten to fifteen units per floor. A major question that would have to be answered in the deisgn phases would be how much residentil space will be provided per unit; I can imagine that grads, post-docs and professors would want more living space than the 200 sq. ft rooms in some of the dorms. The max height of a single building entity would be about 210 feet, the same as a typical 20-story apartment tower, or a fifteen-story office building, to put it into perspective. The final square footage would be 1.5-2.2 million sqaure feet, at least six times the amount of space in Weill Hall (which is 262,000 sq. ft.).

At least 850 parking spaces will be located underneath the East Campus. The primary purpose for them is to provide parking fore the residents of the complex, but the plan also suggests that when they empty out in the evenings, they can be used by others in the Cornell community to maintain the vibrancy of the area. I just can’t get through the impression I’m getting that this isn’t so much academic as it is research, and while we are a research institution, I wonder if how much we’re trying to blur the line between Cornell the school and Cornell the research organization.

To be continued…part 4 will cover the last of the Core Campus.



The Cornell Master Plan: Part 2 of 5

24 07 2008

So, picking up where I left, part 1 was meant to only cover the arts quad and provide an introduction. In part two, we’ll reach a little deeper into the details of the plan.

The next section focuses on the Ho Plaza area. The primary components of the plan for this area include the reconstruction of Gannett and Day Hall and the demolition of the Cornell Store. I’m going to say that because I’m an employee of the store, there’s a certain sense of attachment one develops after a couple years, so I wasn’t very pleased to see this. Also, Olin Hall and Willard Straight are set to gain additions. The massive new development to replace Hollister and Carpenter Halls will be discussed later.

Here’s a surprise; all the proposals on this page are currently in development already, with the exception of the Straight addition and Day Hall’s demolition. There’s the law school additions, which first appear on page 21; the courtyard-plan makes me raise an eyebrow, because you never know what Cornell is exactly planning. The Law School has seen major construction in four decades (Myron Taylor, 1930s, Anabel Taylor, 1950s, Hughes Hall, 1960s, and the Foster addition to Myron Taylor, 1980s). They have remained relatively cohesive in appearance and massing, and I would hope that any further plans keep it that way.

Then there’s Gannett. Gannett was built in 1958 with an addition in 1979 that sticks out like some cancerous growth from the main building (off topic a little, but when designing new buildings, I hope Cornell never hires Frank Gehry. Look at what he did at MIT as a warning[1]). The discussion for the replacement structure suggests it work with the neighboring intersection to engage activity, which seems to me like it would probably have a plaza in front of it. The replacement structure would be 4-5 floors.

The addition to Olin isn’t a surprise, and will probably blend in with the structure as the east addition did in 1987. I’m not up in arms over that one. I admit that I’m none too cheery about the store’s demolition, but that’s because the main reason seems to be sight-lines. What the hell, demolishing a 53,000 sq. ft facility because it obstructs views. The store was built in 1968-69, and was originally supposed to be 10 feet deeper, but they didn’t expect to hit shallow bedrock. So they compromised. I’ve talked about this with customers, and the concern seems to be where else can they put the store where it is still easily accessible. Moving it out east won’t work unless there’s a lot more out there by that time. But, at work they’re already talking of looking at locations to move to within the next couple years; Collegetown is coming up a lot.

The Day Hall proposing is laughable. Curving the base to match with Wee Stinky Glen is probably not going to be as harmonious as suggested. The idea of student activity at the base of Day sounds nice, but I doubt Day Hall’s staff will appreciate it. Day Hall is administrative, so trying to mix the functions of the student union with the administration in one footprint is not going to go over well. My thought anyway.

Precinct 3 is the Engineering Quad and Hoy Field, referred to in the plan as the “Hoy Quad”. Compared to the previous two precincts, the changes here are numerous. Hollister, Carpenter, and part of Thurston are gone (so is Ward Center, but I’ve met engineers who didn’t even know that was there). A massive building replaced the former two, and the latter is incorporated as part of a new set of building, a large addition next to Grumman Hall and a small slender building directly behind Thurston (a design massing of Gates?). Hoy field is gone, replaced by four medium-sized-footprint structures making up a partial quad.

The plan suggests Rhodes is too tall for its location, so the new development next to Grumman builds up to it. At the end of its useful life, the demolition of Rhodes is suggested. Wow, not even twenty years old and Rhodes Hall is already having its demolition suggested. Garden Avenue would be extended between the parking garage and the new quad. The space created in the new quad would be between 249,000 and 378,000 sq. ft of space- about the same if you combined the new Physical Sciences. I’m kinda fond of Hollister Hall,  (I know, it’s a box, but it’s a decent international style box), so I’m a little disappointed to here it’s slated for demolition, but in general I’m more concerned with who Cornell hires to design the new building (I vote for Robert Stern).

Precinct 4 is the Bailey Plaza precinct. Here, Malott Hall has been demolished. I’m not too fond of that; I find the north wing to be a great example of 1960s architecture (to hell with the south wing). Again, it’s because of sight-lines; they want Bailey Hall and Plaza to be the focal point of this area. The plan goes even further to suggest the demolition of Roberts Hall once it goes beyond its useful life to enhance sight-lines even further.

Much to the disappointment (or delight, in some cases) of nutri sci majors, Savage and Kinzelberg would be demolished for a new structure, around 150,000 sq. ft in size and 3-4 floors. Newman Lab would also see the axe. The new building could be either research labs or a performing arts center to complement Bailey. But at the research institution that is Cornell, I have an idea which one would be preferred.

Precinct 5, the Garden Avenue area, has nothing new planned, nor nothing planned for demolition. Here’s an idea; use some of the steel and aluminum from Duffield’s facade and put it on Uris. But, I’m being unfair. Uris, built in 1972, was named for Percy and Harold Uris ’25; the libe was also dedicated to them in 1962, the first time it was renovated. Well, story goes that when Cornell gave them carte blanche on design preferences, they were in Pittsburgh, and noticed how amazing the (then new) U.S. Steel tower’s facade looked (which uses cor-ten steel). They wanted to see that on the new building [2]. So that’s why it was chosen. Cor-ten steel turns gold-yellow when it reacts with common air pollutants; well if Ithaca can claim anything, the air is pretty clean. So, no gold hues anytime soon (the last I heard, maybe 100 years).

Fully Weathered COR-TEN steel

Fully Weathered COR-TEN steel

The last precinct I’ll cover tonight is the Ag Quad. The Ag Quad is important to me because this is where I spend a good chunk of my life (that and the bowels of the engineering school, where engineers remind me every day why I study meteorology and not engineering). In particular, I live at the top of Bradfield. We think it’s the best view because of the height and the fact we don’t have to look at it. It’s like a pug, so ugly you can’t help but love it (it grew on me over months…okay, years). The additions to the ag quad are a new building over the gravel lot currently between Kennedy and Plant Sci, and the front of south side of Plant Sci. Really, we wouldn’t even need a new building on the parking lot if they hadn’t demolished East Roberts Hall in the late 1980s.

L to R: Roberts, Stone, East Roberts Halls

As for the Plant Sci addition, I was never fond of the front anyway. It was built in the depression, and it looks that way too. But no glass box, please. This precinct also includes the new MVR north, being built right now (there was an old MVR north; just search this blog for the story). It looks life Caldwell and Warren get back additions on their parking lots, and Bruckner Lab sees the wrecking ball to make room for a building that dwarfs neighboring Rice and Fernow Halls. They say Cornell builds in a style is fashionable at the time. If that’s the case right now, then stay off the Ag Quad. My trust with Cornell’s building proposal designs is quite low.

Thankfully, none of the plans are currently underway. I admit, if William Henry Miller were alive today, I’d be begging for the university to hire him. I’m not big on progressive architecture, but maybe that’s because I just don’t understand it. I like the traditional styles just fine.To be continued…[1]

[2] – see 12/27/2005