January 25, 2002

Milstein Hall Evolves as Opposition Continues

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Design plans for Milstein Hall, the future home for the Department of Architecture and proposed replacement for Rand Hall, continue to evolve as they have come under increasing criticism by those dissatisfied with the proposed sketch.

The building, designed by architect Steven Holl, was unanimously selected in April 2001 in a competition judged by a panel of architectural experts.

“The architect, Steven Holl is still making changes to the pre-schematic designs (used for the competition),” said Prof. Nasrine Seraji, chair of the Department of Architecture.

Meanwhile, alumni led by Peter Szilagyi ’72, founder of the Cornell Alumni Committee for an Intelligent Solution to a New Architecture School Building, are engaged in an effort to undermine Holl’s plan.

The committee was specifically created out of concern for the design of the new building. “This is not an intelligent solution, this is an expeditious solution,” Szilagyi said.

Last week, in a letter sent to President Hunter R. Rawlings III, Porus Olpadwala, dean of the College of Art, Architecture and Planning along with the members of the Board of Trustees, concerned alumnus Bob Zeidman ’81 said, “This nightmarish block is dark and disturbing and out of character with the nearby Arts Quad.”

Zeidman created an internet site, www.zeidmanconsulting.com/petition.htm, where he reported receiving 427 electronic signatures from alumni, students, parents, professors, and employees in opposition to the plan.

Suggesting that the controversy has grown in rancor, Szilagyi cited, “an attitude of secret-ness and antagonism.”

He suggested that he would consider withdrawing his support for Cornell University.

“We are giving the architect a chance to look at his design. He is responding to the criticism as any good architect would do, ” Seraji said. Further sketches are expected by March, when Holl will visit Cornell for an upcoming lecture.

Archived article by Peter Norlander