October 2, 2000

$10 Million Given to Replace Rand Hall

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Thanks to last year’s $10 million gift to the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, plans to provide AAP students with a new state-of-the-art facility as well as a new gateway to Cornell’s campus are well underway.

Irma Milstein and her family made the generous donation to honor her husband, Paul, who has been hailed as a visionary in the field of residential and commercial development for his work in New York City.

When the University received the Milsteins’ gift, President Hunter R. Rawlings III said he hoped the donation would “have the same catalyzing effect on the campus that Milstein development has had in New York City.”

AAP Dean Porus Olpadwala said the gift “will enable us to create a striking facility worthy of Paul Milstein and in harmony with its surroundings.”

“The new building will attract critical acclaim in addition to giving our students and faculty a much-needed first-rate learning environment,” Olpadwala added.

Cornell’s architecture program is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the nation and was ranked the top architecture program in the United States in a 1999 poll conducted by the Almanac of Architecture and Design.

A solution to Rand Hall’s problems was put at the top of the University’s to do list in 1997 when the National Architectural Accrediting Board praised Cornell’s architectural program but harshly criticized its facilities.

Olpadwala cited problems with the building including its old and run-down appearance and a lack of handicap accessibility as reasons why it is unlikely that any part of the old Rand Hall will remain once the new facility is completed.

Space inside Rand was also very cramped until recently when some of its studios were moved into Sibley Hall and some of the Sibley facilities were moved into the newly renovated Olive Tjaden Hall, resulting in more room for students.

Olpadwala hopes to break ground for the school’s new Milstein Hall, which will replace the current Rand Hall, by spring of 2002 and complete the project by Fall 2003.

Before ground can be broken for Milstein Hall, however, Cornell must find the right architect for the job.

To accomplish this goal, the AAP college plans to hold a competition in which top architectural firms will submit designs for the building and judges will choose which firm’s ideas best suit the project.

Olpadwala said he expects plans for this competition to be finalized in the next three months. However, two phases of Milstein Hall project have already been completed.

“We hired a planning architect [from the NBBJ firm] to do a planning study over the summer,” Olpadwala said. “NBBJ also verified our program. The college put forward its needs and an outside architect looked at the needs and said that the college was not asking for too much or too little.”

A new gateway to Cornell’s campus is also part of the plans for Milstein Hall.

“[The architectural firm] NBBJ also looked at the approach to the campus, because one of the things [Milstein Hall] is supposed to do is provide a better-looking approach than Rand Hall did in the old days,” Olpadwala said.

Howard Milstein ’73, a Cornell trustee, cited his family’s ties to Cornell as the their primary reason for wanting to create this new entrance to the University.

“Cornell has played a significant role in our lives,” he said. “A university is a gateway to life. Helping create a gateway to the Cornell campus is a fitting way to underscore our commitment to this great institution. But it also is a tribute to our father, who made Cornell possible for us and served as a role model for what it means to give.”

Correction: The Sun originally reported in this story that Paul Milstein had passed away. This is incorrect. The Sun regrets the error.

Archived article by Katherine Davis