February 15, 2001

Firms Compete to Design New Hall

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The College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) announced four finalists in Cornell’s first architectural design competition, which will result in an addition to the Arts Quad by the fall of 2004.

The $25 million project aims to select a well-known architecture firm to design and construct a major, new building for the Department of Architecture.

The new structure, Milstein Hall, will include the architecture studio area that is currently housed in Rand Hall, as well as a large auditorium, classrooms, offices and other Department of Architecture-related services.

AAP students have expressed mixed feelings about the changes, although they are enthusiastic about the new facility.

“Even though Rand Hall is 90 years old and falling apart, [AAP students] don’t have to worry about messing anything up. The architecture students are excited for newer technology, more space per student and safer facilities. [Milstein Hall] will be the first building created for the architecture school,” said Michael Wacht ’02, Student Assembly Representative of AAP.

Rand Hall is scheduled to be destroyed at some point during the building process. Milstein Hall’s exact size and location will be determined by the chosen architect.

The building will be erected at a “prominent entrance to the University, adjacent to historic Sibley Hall,” according to a recent University press release.

To find the right architects for the job, a selection committee of eight members originally invited over 20 internationally-acclaimed architectural firms to participate.

Members of the selection committee include Porus Olpadwala, dean of AAP, Assistant Dean John Zissovici, University Architect Peter Karp, Building Project Director John McKeown, Chair of the Department of Architecture Mark Cruvellier and others.

“We wanted the process for selecting an architect to undertake the project to be educational and inclusive,” said Karp, who also chairs the selections committee.

“This competition is as much about the process as it is about the final decision, and we encourage the students and faculty to get involved,” he added.

Each architecture firm was asked to send credentials to the selections committee. Of the 12 firms that responded positively, nine were then judged based on an interview, models of past projects and presentations to the selection committee. The applicant pool was then narrowed down to four candidates.

McKeown said the four most qualified candidates were easy to distinguish.

“The architecture selection committee has been working very closely on this project and everyone has really come together in agreement,” McKeown said. “Although all of the candidates were of high quality, the core team came to a consensus quickly.”

The four architects nominated as finalists are: Steven Holl Architects (New York), Thom Mayne with Morphosis Architects (Santa Monica, CA), Tod Williams, Billie Tsien and Associates (New York) and Peter Zumthor, Architect (Switzerland).

All four finalists are scheduled to present their completed design projects to a jury of “professional peers” on April 18 and 19 after 12 weeks to construct a design concept. The jury will consist entirely of professional architects from outside the Cornell community and will recommend their choice from the four final designs.

“[The competition] provides an exceptional, once in a lifetime opportunity to have four wonderful architects producing work for our campus,” Karp said.

Archived article by Lauren Haber