The EcoVillage

9 05 2013

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Although I take a lot of jabs at “hippies”, the reason I never made it to Ecovillage before now had less to do with any personal stance and more to do with the fact it was just out of my way. Rachel Carson Way lies about a mile and a half westward of Inlet Island, nestled in the hills opposite from Cornell. This means that when I past through, it’s farthest out of my way, so time often being a priority, it always sat on the bucket list. Finally, I made the conscious effort to take a trip up on my last photo tour.

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Ecovillage runs on the concept of co-housing, which in many ways runs close to most people’s idea of a commune (and mentally, I still find myself referring to it as a commune). There are optional shared dinners, a community-based work system, and of course, being in tune with the natural environment. Hence, solar arrays, housing designed to minimize energy use, foods grown on the property,  and so forth. Ecovillage isn’t unique, not even in Tompkins County (White Hawk in Danby is a smaller but similar concept). But it is probably one of the best known developments of its kind.

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Ecovillage began planning in 1992-1993, when stakeholders purchased a former farm with the intent of launching an eco-friendly community.  The first neighborhood, FROG (First Resident Group), began construction in 1995 and was completed two years later. The second community, SONG (Second Neighborhood Group), received site plan approval in 2001, and was built in three phases over five years. Each of these neighborhoods has 30 units with a community center. The community also has a few other bells and whistles, like a passive bus shelter, a root cellar, carports and a berry farm. The pre-Ecovillage farmhouse and barn are now a separate property holding an antique shop and the City Lights B&B.

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Ecovillage is well underway with its third neighborhood, TREE. At 40 units, TREE is slightly larger than the first two neighborhoods. Construction is definitely underway, and the majority of the community should be complete before the end of the year. Also worth a quick note, a 900 sq ft “Gourd Workshop” was under construction when I passed through. More additions, like an education center and a roadside farm stand, are in the works.

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If you don’t want to be a creeper like me, Ecovillage opens itself up for a free public tour at 3 PM on the first Saturday of each month. That way, you can avoid being like me, trying to take photos when kids keep wandering in front of them, and having that awkward realization that you look like a child predator.

An Ever-Expanding Ithaca Apartment Hunt

4 01 2013

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So, this post relies on a question originally posed by “Steve” on the welcome page:

I wonder if you can comment on the number of new apartments being built in Ithaca from a historical perspective? It seems like there are many coming online but I don’t have a long enough perspective.

As a matter of fact, I had obtained this info several months ago for reference, from a report given to the DIA by the Danter Company regarding the Ithaca housing market’s trends, needs and projections. But I had never made much use of that data until now. Even to the casual observer, there has been an uptick in construction around and about the Ithaca area as of late. As the metro has expanded a little over 5% (~5,500 people) in the past decade, some growth is to be expected. The Ithaca market (mostly defined as Ithaca city/town with some parts of Lansing) is believed to be capable of absorbing about 1,350 units over the next five years, 25% owner-occupied (most likely condos) and 75% rental units.

As of April 2011, there were 4,793 units in 75 developments (5 others with 270 units of subsidized housing are excluded from analysis). 49% of all those units are occupied by, no surprise, students at IC or Cornell. Borrowing a table from the report itself shows the number of multi-unit projects built within Ithaca proper, broken down into separate time periods.


So, adding up the 2000s gives 654 units 14 projects. This is a substantial increase from the 454 units built in the 1990s, but somewhat less than the 824 units in the 1980s, and less than half of the 1,604 units built in the 1970s. For the curious, the project built in 2009 was INHS’s Cedar Creek on the west side of the city. West Hill accounts for over half of the new multi-unit housing built in the 2000s, with Overlook at West Hill (128 units, 2006), Linderman Creek (128 units in 2 phases, 2000/2004) Cayuga View (24 units, 2005) and Conifer Village (70 units, 2008). Collegetown also makes up a small portion, with projects like 407 College (25 units, 2006) and Coal Yard Apartments Phase I (10 units, 2007).

Now, starting around the time this left off, there have been a number of major projects. Within the 2011-2016 time frame, here’s a sample of what’s completed/under construction/planned (I’m not going to link to each one for this entry, but the curious can make use of the search bar to pull up more info from other entries):

Collegetown Terrace (U/C; usually defined with “beds”; but in terms of units, the construction company in charge suggests 246 units, but that may just be one phase). EDIT – 610 units. That’s…a lot.

309 Eddy (completed, 24 units)

Coal Yard Apartment Phase II (completed, 25 units)

107 Cook (U/C, 4 units)

Breckinridge Place (U/C, 50 units)

Collegetown Crossing (in review, 60 units).

Thurston/Highland (in review, 36 units)

Seneca Way (U/C, 38 units)

619 West Seneca (U/C, 24 units)

Cayuga Green (approved, 39 units)

Fane Properties/ 100 E. Clinton (proposed, 36 units)

Harold Square (proposed, 60-70 units)

Cascadilla Landing (in review, 134 units)

Stone Quarry Apartments (in review, 35 units)

Conifer Phase II (72 units, senior housing, site prep)

Purity Ice Cream Redevelopment (proposed, 13-26 units)

Hawk’s Nest at Springwood (proposed, 50 units)

Cinema Drive (proposed, Lansing village south of 13, 39 units)

Lansing Reserve (proposed, on the north edge of what the Danter study calls “Ithaca” proper; 65 units)

College Crossings (U/C, 2 units)

So in the Ithaca area proper, in a span from 2011-2016, I’m estimating at least 1,415 units in 20 projects. This assumes the townhomes with the Vine Street Cottages and Holochuck Homes projects are not rentals (and not included in this tally), excludes the several hundred units of housing planned in the town of Lansing (town center, Village Solars, etc.). Also, Ithaca Gun and its 45 units are not being included until that project leaves limbo.

So to answer Steve’s question- Ithaca is running well above average, and is on a pace not seen since the 1970s. Quite the uptick indeed.

News Tidbits 9/30/2011: A Big Red Bandhouse

30 09 2011

At my time at Cornell, I was fortunate enough to have friends in the Big Red Band, and I could listen to all their stories/drunk antics when I was at work (I left with the impression that the Big Red Band was basically like an extra-large fraternity with talent). I never really cared to pay much attention to the Bandies because it was never where my interest lied; I didn’t follow CU Athletics, and a big school at Cornell could afford to let people diverge into their separate interests, and for me it lay elsewhere. But, I can imagine a few certain alumni that I know must be celebrating right now.

According to the monthly alumni newsletter, the Big Red Band is about to get a facility of their own. Thanks to some large finacial contributions from band alumni David and Sarah Fischell (Fischell Hall? I think so!), the initial funding/planning is underway for a multi-million dollar band facility that will be located behind the Schoellkopf Crescent.

If I had to venture a guess on the exact siting, I would say somewhere on the parking lot, or close to the substation.  The upcoming expansion of Wilson Lab will prevent any other new structure from being built west of that facility.

As for the architecture firm, the name is familiar to Cornell – Baird Sampson Neuert, out of Toronto. They previously designed the Nevin Welcome Center in the the Plantations, and I’m sure whatever they design for the Bandhouse will only further the firm’s commitment to modern/ultramodern, geometric structures. The structure, though still in the design stage, it expected to have 6,400 sq ft and be at least three stories tall. The height is necessary due to sound pressures created by hundreds of musical instruments created at once, so a large volume is needed to spread out the force. Groundbreaking is expected to occur next year, with completion in Spring 2013, and dedication at the 2013 Homecoming, where the Big Red Band alumni group hopes to gather 500 muscially-inclined alumni for the event.

News Tidbits 8/22/11: Kappa Delta’s Swanky Renovation

22 08 2011

It would be nice to live in Ithaca, but since I don’t, I increasingly find about construction projects from word-of-mouth rather than investigating on my own. In correspondence with “BB” from the Milstein Hall entry, he briefly mentioned that he’d take some photos of KD’s renovation project.

It piqued my curiosity because that was the first time I had ever heard about it. My first thought was that it may not have been an immense piece of work because I hadn’t seen anything in the planning board minutes from the city. But, I decided to quickly check online to see if there was anything special about this construction project.

I barely recognized the house.

Here’s the before photo, from my own archives (dated July 16, 2008).

Here’s an after image from a construction blog on their website:

It’s a pitifully small photo, but I’ll rectify that when I take a photo at Homecoming. Note that the west wall (right side) visible in the before image is now the front entrance.

The most substantial change is the construction of a generous wrap-around porch from Sisson Place onto Triphammer Road. The construction itself isn’t expanding the structure much, about 800 sq. ft on the first floor (based off what my strained eyes can pull from the elevations image at top). But the exterior reclad with an emphasis on a traditional appearance does wonders for what was arguably one of the more rundown-looking sorority houses on campus, creating a more graceful, less bunker-like presence. According to the webpage, the renovation cost is around $400,000.

Regarding the comment on the webpage about Triphammer Road being the original entrance location, I don’t have any verification of that, but it is quite likely. KD moved to its current location around 1923 and underwent several renovations/expansions in the years since.

In terms of exterior alteration, this is probably one of the most substantial changes since Sigma Pi built a new house in the mid-1990s. I must admit that the final result looks impressive.

Springtime Construction Update

12 04 2011

Long story short, for the first time since about New Year’s, I was able to visit Ithaca this past weekend. Went for a national initiation for the fraternal alma mater and stayed for the day.

Milstein Hall continues towards its late 2011 completion date.

The new Human Ecology Building nears completion.

The Brian Nevin Welcome Center for the Cornell Plantations is open and ready to receive visitors.

Demolition work continues on Stocking Hall’s “new wing”, to make way for the new Food Sciences building.

Concrete pouring is well underway for the Johnson Museum addition.

The site of Gates Hall, looking southeast.

Oh Cornell. Even if you drove me nuts while I was in Ithaca, I do miss you a little bit. Partly because I have to look at this everyday:

Good thing my office is windowless.

Oh Great, I’m Becoming A Preservationist…

18 03 2011

So, looking at the planning board agenda for the city this month, most of the projects under review have already been covered in previous entries. But there appears to be a new entry, and it’s based on College Avenue. 140 College Avenue, to be exact. The owners, Po Family Realty, seek to add a 3800 sq ft, three-story apartment addition onto the south side of the building. Which, in most cases, wouldn’t be a tremendous deal.

Except 140 College Avenue is considered untouchable by the local preservationists, and I can’t blame them for that opinion either. As a matter of fact, I might even agree for once in a blue moon.

You see, 140 College Avenue is the John Snaith House. Although the name may not sound familiar, its appearance certainly will. It’s the red brick house on the corner of College and Cook Street with the wrought iron fence and mansard roof. It made an appearance on the recommended Collegetown structures for historical designation document released a couple years ago.According to the PDF, the house was built by and for John Snaith, a contractor, in 1874. He relocated to Albany in 1887, and the house was badly damaged and rebuilt following a structural fire in 1894.

The issue I have with this project isn’t so much the project itself, which I do think is a bit unnecessary consider the benefits of such a small project are small. It’s more to do with the fact that the Snaith House is a well-recognized historic building. I’m concerned that if it somehow got approved (which, considering one of the writers of the historic buildings document is also chairman of the Planning Board, I find unlikely), it would galvanize the local NIMBYs who would point to that project as an example of the dangers of development, and use it to try and dissuade later projects.

I’m still surprised the owners of 140 College Avenue would even propose this project. I don’t normally turn up my nose at development, especially in Collegetown, but this proposal stinks.

One Stormy Day on Campus

15 12 2008

I’m not a holiday person. But I am halfway done with finals, which is reason enough to celebrate.


Malott Hall, built in 1963, is named for Cornell’s sixth president, Deane Waldo Malott (1951-1963) [1]. The primary donor was William Carpenter ’10, but Carpenter Hall was built six years earlier, so apparently we went with the next best thing. The north building, pictured here, is classic 60’s architecture- notice the giant fishbowl lamps. Malott Hall originally housed the Johnson school until that moved to Sage in 1998; afterwards, the math department moved from White Hall to Malott. The rather Soviet looking north wing was part of a 1977 addition to the original structure. Malott is slated to be torn down under the Cornell Master Plan.

Old Deane Malott, who passed in 1996 at the ripe age of 98, was a conservative, even by 1950s standards. However, he is credited with significantly modernizing Cornell’s liberal arts programs, as well as overseeing a major construction period of the university’s history [2]. Prior to serving at Cornell, Malott was the president of the University of Kansas from 1939 to1951; as a result, they also have a Malott Hall (which houses their pharmacy school).


It was a really blustery day.

For the record, this temp parking lot has only been here since the early 2000s, and the site is on the short list for development—after the economic crisis ends, of course. Originally suggested for a Bradfield-mass development (from Carol Kammen, author of Cornell Then and Now), the current master plan proposes a building of only one or two floors that offers general functions, like a visitor’s center.


 I never actually discussed Caldwell Hall in the previous Ag Quad entry. Caldwell was built with state money in 1913 [3]. Named for George Chapman Caldwell, an early professor of Agricultural Chemistry, the building housed soil sciences until it moved to Bradfield in 1969, and residual duties were picked up the entomology department in then-Comstock Hall. Today, Caldwell houses Cornell Abroad, the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, and an LGBT resource center.


Surprise! This went under the radar. In September, Cornell renamed this wing of the ILR Extension building in honor of Jonathan Dolgen ’66 [4]. So, we now have Dolgen Hall. Anyone want to take a guess at the price tag for this?

The building itself was built in 1911 [5], then part of the Vet School. ILR moved in during the late 1940s. The buildings underwent a significant renovation from 2002-2004, but because they were designated landmarks, the exteriors were relatively unaltered.


Teagle Hall looks older than it is, in my opinion. The building opened as the men’s sports facility in 1954, and is named for Walter C. Teagle 1899. Apart from going co-ed, the building maintains much of its original use [6,7]. The building is faced with Llenroc and is designed to harmonize architecturally with neighboring Barton Hall. For those bold explorers out there, there is an underground tunnel connecting Barton and Teagle below Garden Avenue.

That’s a clock on the stone wall, by the way.





The Robert A. and Jan M. Beck Center  is a 35,000 sq. ft addition to the Hotel School that was completed in late 2004, at the cost of 16.2 million dollars [8]. The modern design is similar to the one currently being applied to the  south facade of the school (which is undergoing a 14,ooo sq. ft currently) [9]. Which make sense since both were designed by KSS Architects.


Rhodes Hall was completed in 1990 as the Engineering and Theory Center building, and then rededicated to former president Frank Rhodes in 1995 [10]. The building is home to the Computing Theory Center, which housed at one time one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Today, I think it just barely cracks the top 500, but then again, pursuit of the most powerful supercomputer is a costly expenditure we probably shouldn’t be dabbling much with at the moment.

Rhodes Hall caused quite the complaint back in the day because of its size. Locals and some faculty/students complained that it overwhelmed the neighboring gorge and was too massive for the site. Not that the overbearing blank wall on the southwest side helps (but it is functional- that’s mechanical space ,and the supercomputer is on the other side of the wall, so they climate-controlled it a-la Bradfield, behind a windowless wall.














see:August 4, 1987

Everyone Loves Historical Throwbacks

2 10 2008

So, if you haven’t been living under a rock in the past year, there are plans for a 9-story, 102-room hotel just off the commons, to be designed by Scott Whitham of Thomas Group Architects in conjunction with Ithaca Properties LLC / Rimland Associates. Well, it looks like they have a hotel operator in Gemstone Hotels & Resorts, a boutique hotel operator based out of Utah [1]:

Hotel Ithaca

Hotel Ithaca, currently in final planning and approval, is expected to open in 2011. The property will be a nine-story, full-service boutique hotel at the intersection of State and Aurora Streets. The hotel will feature 125 luxury rooms and suites and 2,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The hotel will be built on the same site as the original Hotel Ithaca. In addition, the hotel will be the home of the original Zinck’s Bar, a cherished icon of the city’s past.

“We welcome the opportunity to be involved with the first luxury boutique hotel in the Ithaca area,” said Thomas Prins. “Because the city is also home to the world renowned Cornell Hotel School, we are very excited to set a new standard in concept and operations and set an example for students and the many hotelier alumni who visit the school.”

I have no clue where they had the idea it was a 125-room hotel. Everything I’ve read has stated 102 rooms.

That being said, since the last Zinck’s closed over forty years ago, the only things most of us modern Cornellians know about it is from “Give My Regards to Davy” [/We’ll all have drinks at Theodore Zinck’s/]. Cornell’s alumni associations make use of the Zinck’s nostalgia in its alumni events:

“Theodore Zinck was a saloonkeeper in Ithaca, and his pub, the Hotel Brunswick, was a popular gathering place for Cornellians in the 1890s. After his death in 1903, several bars using his name continued to provide a haven for students. When the last Zinck’s closed in the mid-1960s, celebrating the spirit of Zinck’s became a favorite Thursday night Collegetown tradition for undergraduates. It wasn’t long afterward that Cornellians began to continue the tradition in their hometowns. This year, alumni will celebrate this uniquely Cornell event in more than 90 cities around the world. So wherever you are, remember your days at Cornell on October 16. [2]”

Currently, the University uses “the Spirit of Zinck’s night” as a way to promote alumni involvement (e.g. solicit donations). With the historical name being reused at a drinking establishment once again, it looks like they might be able to celebrate at Zinck’s a couple of years from now.