November 13, 2001

Alumni Petition Against Milstein Design

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Scores of alumni, ranging from world-famous architects to graduates with a lasting interest in the Cornell campus, have been working to extend the discussion about designs for Milstein Hall. One alumnus has, in fact, created an on-line petition protesting the design.

The design for Milstein, which will house the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, was constructed by Steven Holl Architects, an architecture firm based in New York City.

Rand Hall will be torn down in the summer of 2003 and will be replaced by Milstein Hall, which will feature new art studios and administrative offices. An auditorium is also included in the design.

The petition in opposition of the design was started by an engineering graduate, Bob Zeidman ’81, who found out about the building design while reading a magazine on a business trip. He disapproved of the design for Milstein Hall and decided to draft the petition.

“I’ve read a lot about architecture [and] learned a lot by looking at architecture,” Zeidman said. “It looks grotesque. I wouldn’t want to see that everyday. I decided to do something, to set up a petition over the Internet.”

People can go to a section of his website,, and fill out the form. Alumni can also include personal comments about the building without having to fill out the petition.

Zeidman plans to forward all information gathered from the web document to the Cornell administration.

“Bob is still collecting names everyday,” said Peter Szilagyi ’72, chair of the Cornell Alumni Committee for an Intelligent Solution to a New Architecture School Building. “What’s interesting is that Bob Zeidman isn’t an architecture graduate, and he stumbled across this. Once he saw this building, he made this petition.”

Szilagyi also expressed concern over the building’s aesthetics.

“Hopefully the size of the petition will make [the administration] think, to reconsider. It visually clashes with the other buildings. With the design as it exists, you’re forced to walk through the building from, let’s say Donlon Hall to the Arts Quad. It’s silly,” Szilagyi said.

However, different opinions about the building’s design are circulating amongst the alumni community. At a Cornell Alumni Association of Northern California meeting in October, Zeidman posted flyers on glass doors about the Milstein Hall building design.

“They tore down the posters and tried to bar me from the building,” Zeidman said. “They called security. I didn’t cause any problems. Some people find criticizing the administration is not something you should do as an alumnus.”

One alumnus at the meeting commented on the incident. “I arrived as security was ‘defusing the event,'” said Mike Narodovich ’99. “What I understand is that a concerned alumni member had taped some signs to the glass doors of the Stanford alumni facility