August 28, 2001

Traffic Confusion Increases As Duffield Hall Progresses

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Much to the chagrin of students and faculty, the Cornell campus has become more difficult to navigate as this summer marked the beginning of the Duffield Hall construction project.

Duffield will be a new nanotechnology research facility on the engineering quad.

“As far as I can tell, it is moving along on schedule, with no surprises,” said Prof. Clifford Pollock, electrical and computer engineering, who is collaborating on the project.

Work on the site began June 25 by the contractors, who represent a joint venture between McCarthy Builders of St. Louis, Mo., and Welliver McGuire of Elmira, N.Y.

Over the summer, workers removed vegetation, secured a fence around the site, installed a soil retention system, devised a storm water pollution prevention plan and completed other steps necessary to prepare the site, according to Bob Stundtner, project manager.

“The big idea behind Duffield,” Stundtner said, “is to provide a cutting edge facility for interdisciplinary collaboration to support the most demanding research in nanotechnology.”

Nanotechnology is, according to the Cornell Nanotechnology website, the science of patterning and constructing materials and devices at the atomic level.

In the planning stages of the building, several environmental concerns were brought up regarding chemicals used in construction and research that would take place upon its completion.

“We did a full environmental impact assessment of the facility,” Pollock said. “There are no more outstanding issues.”

A previous concern was the accidental release of chemicals such as arsine and silane, but according to Pollock, the facility is “designed to accommodate accidental releases.”

Now that students have returned, the potential for vehicular and pedestrian traffic could also be a negative effect of the project.

“There is no doubt that at times we’re all going to find it inconvenient,” said Stundtner, suggesting that pedestrians “avoid delays by going around the quad rather than trying to navigate through it. Our advice is to use Ho Plaza, Central Ave. and College Ave. as the most reliable, quickest and safest path to and from Collegetown and points north.”

As stated on the Duffield Hall project Web site, the priority for the period leading up to the first day of classes has been to make rooms in Philips Hall presentable for classes, because the hall is directly adjacent to the site and has been affected.

Once asbestos abatement that is currently underway on the site is complete, the mass excavation and installation of project trailers and the remainder of the soil retention system will continue as planned.

A large atrium is also intended for the building for both students and faculty, along with three small conference rooms, and two seminar rooms, according to Stundtner.

“Our goal”, Stundtner said, “is to have the atria … and quad available for commencement activities in 2004.”

Archived article by Stacy Williams