With designs finalized and contract bidding coming to an end, the renovation project at Stocking Hall –– home to the Department of Food Science and the Cornell Dairy Bar –– is expected to begin this November. The building, originally constructed in 1923, has not seen major renovations since the 1960s.
According to Brad Newhouse, project manager for Contract College Facilities, Pike Construction Company has submitted the lowest bid and is the likely contractor for the project. The bidding was held in Albany at the State University Construction Fund office, and the project team is currently in talks with Pike Construction. Newhouse said the total cost of the renovations will likely be $95.8 million and an official contract will be awarded once details are finalized.
“We still have meetings with the lowest apparent bidder [Pike Construction] before giving them a letter, awarding the contract,” Newhouse said. “We believe the contract will be on-site in November ... and construction will begin soon after.”
According to previous press releases from SUCF and the University, the contract colleges were awarded $105 million from the State University Capital Plan; funds not used on Stocking Hall will be appropriated to other renovation projects among the contract colleges.
“That [extra] funding stays with Cornell University, within the four state colleges,” Newhouse said. “We have multiple projects underway ... and [the extra funds] will be a part of the capital budget for the state colleges.”
Newhouse said the renovations will be divided into two major phases: the first phase, which should be substantially complete by June 2013, includes demolition and reconstruction of the hallway between the two Stocking Hall towers, nicknamed “the runway.” The second phase, due by August 2014, includes an exterior restoration of the towers and a complete interior renovation.
“We don’t have enough room to move everyone out at one time, so we are occupying the Food Science Laboratory and portions of Stocking Hall,” Newhouse said. “The Dairy Bar will be renewed, along with a new tiered lecture hall, an extension conference center and a student winery.”
Jason Huck M.S. ‘07, general manager of Dairy Operations, explained how these renovations will impact pasteurization operations at the dairy plant.
“We are currently working on a temporary facility in our food science lab building,” Huck said. “As of last Thursday, we have commissioned a small [dairy] processing unit that has been inspected and permitted by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets ... On that unit, we will continue to process our Cornell Dairy yogurt, pudding, cider and various juices that are served around campus.”
When asked about the why ice cream could not be produced, Huck cited the lack of space as the primary reason.
“Due to the amount of storage required for ingredients and footprint required for the ice cream blast freezer, which is where we freeze the ice cream down to temperature for storage, it’s unfeasible for us to continue making ice cream on campus ... until the new dairy plant reopens,” Huck said. “We’ve been working with external vendors [to build] our current temporary facility, and that’s primarily to support the orchards by bringing income through juice processing, as well as for our own research purposes ... It would have cost us millions of dollars to build the facilities necessary to process milk and ice cream [in this temporary facility].”
In anticipation of these changes, the Dairy Bar built up an inventory of ice cream in August and announced those numbers on their website; Huck said an inventory update for September will be posted on Monday.
Prof. Robert Gravani Ph.D. ‘75, food science, believed that these renovations were long overdue.
“Sometime we have buckets to catch water when the roof leaks,” Gravani said. “Take a quick walk [to Stocking Hall] and go to one of the men’s rooms in this building — that would be an interesting experience. There’s no air ventilation system so you have to open up a window, if there is a window ... We’ve been living in a dilapidated building for quite a while.”
When asked to comment on the future of dairy operations, Gravani said it is one of the hallmarks of the department and the renovations will bring their facilities up to par to their current position in the field.
“If you talk to people in the food industry, you want to ensure that your own facility has all the bells-and-whistles it needs in order to insert authority,” Gravani said. “When we get a new facility, we’ll be feeling really good about bringing all these aspects together ... [because] a state-of-the-art facility is what we really need.”
Overall, Gravani was proud with with what his department was able to achieve in the building.
“Despite the structural inadequacies of the building, tremendous work and teaching extension got done here,” Gravani said. “We can look at [the old Stocking Hall] and say: ‘It wasn’t the greatest facility it the world, but some world-class work got done here, and that’s the bottom line.’”