December 1, 2000

C.U. Sees Record Construction

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Campus-wide construction and renovations will not be slowing as Cornell continues to revamp through this semester and beyond. More construction has occurred on campus this past year than ever before and from North Campus to off-campus facilities, the face of Cornell is transforming to meet the ever-changing technological times and the growing student population.

“We’ve had a record amount of construction here over the past year or so,” said President Hunter R. Rawlings III in an interview with The Sun last week.

For nine grueling months, construction of Court and Mews Halls, two new freshmen dorms, has been underway on North Campus.

“Everything is going well, we should have seven months left to go,” said Jean Reese, project leader for the program aspect of the North Campus Residential Initiative.

Administrators promise that next year’s residents, whose sleep will not be interrupted by the early morning work, which was a complaint of Donlon resident Kaj Hackinen ’04. But a shortage of masons needed to configure the exterior brickwork threatens to delay completion.

However, when the residence halls are finished, they will be equipped with air conditioners and fire-place lounges as well as outdoor tennis and basketball courts.

The dorms’ air conditioning will be supplied by another project completed this semester, Lake Source Cooling.

Lake Source Cooling transfers cold water temperatures from the bottom of Cayuga Lake to Cornell’s water-cooling system for air conditioning purposes. While controversy has surrounded the project because it returns warmer and phosphorous-filled water to the lake, the system has been running without incident this semester.

Beyond residential and utilities construction, academic projects have also been booming, as Mann Library’s expansion opened to students.

The addition, completed in October, has brought the library technological advancements and faster networks. However, the work is not yet done.

“A lot of patrons don’t know this is only half the story,” said Peter Schrempf, administrative manager of Mann Library. “They forget the old building has to be renovated; there will be much larger study spaces and a place where students can eat.”

Another place for students looking for lunch is the campus store. A “Munch Market” convenience mart opened earlier this semester. The store also centralized its checkout and return counters, and new customer service desks were placed on the upper and lower levels. New paint, carpeting, technological advances and design changes were also added.

“We think [the renovation] has been tremendously successful,” said Margie Whiteleather, strategy manager of Cornell Business Services. “It is easier to shop and move from section to section.”

Lincoln Hall renovations and additions were also completed this semester. New facilities for rehearsal and lessons, electronic mini-studios and administrative spaces added footage to the building.

“The practice rooms are full day and night,” said Steven Stucky, the Given Foundation Professor of Composition. “Many more students are in the building now than before; people really like to be here.”

The construction craze does not stop there, however. There are a number of prospective projects in the works. West Campus is due for a make-over, but plans for the renovations there are still in development. “Everything is so rudimentary right now,” said David Mahon ’01, a member of the West Campus Living Learning Council.

The plans include four to five new living-learning houses with communal dining facilities, seminar rooms, offices for staff, graduate students and faculty fellows.

Because the plans are not yet definite, construction may not begin until 2004.

Cornell is also spreading the construction fever off campus. The current Tompkins County Trust Company’s central office is the projected site for a new downtown office building to be constructed by the University.

The offices will hopefully strengthen the relationship between downtown Ithaca and Cornell, according to John E. Majeroni, the University director of real estate. He predicts one year until construction begins.

“Eleven developers expressed interest,” he said. “We hope very shortly to be narrowing the list down to two or three.”

Archived article by Rachel Einschlag