January 25, 2002

SUNY to Fund MVR Reconstruction

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The State University of New York (SUNY) Construction Fund has agreed to grant Cornell funding to initiate the first stage of program planning and design for the reconstruction of the north wing of Martha Van Rensselaer Hall. The building was closed last July due to deficiencies in the concrete slab floor supports.

“We are going to re-allocate some state funding authorizations from the Construction Fund so that we can go ahead with the project,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations. “SUNY has indicated that they’ll try to find $2.8 million for design work to get that process started,” he added.

The initial program planning and selection of an architect for the design of the $30 million project will begin this semester.

“We appreciate the recognition by everyone of the magnitude and urgency of this project. We are absolutely delighted that a decision has been made and the project is moving forward,” said Patsy Brannon, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of Human Ecology.

Classrooms, laboratories and office space totaling 40,000 square feet were lost with the emergency closing of the north wing last July.

The new design will include assignable space for the 300 faculty and staff who were dislocated, though it is yet to be determined whether the design will provide the 25,000 square feet of program space that the College of Human Ecology needed before the closure of the building, according to Kay Obendorf, associate dean of the College of Human Ecology.

“The old design was not very efficient for achieving maximum assignable square footage. It is still under discussion what will be done to make the new building more efficient, a little bit larger in order to deal with the master plan of the University, and how to best allocate the new programs,” said Obendorf.

A newly formed committee comprised of representatives from the human ecology college and officials from statutory facilities maintenance will look at updating the program needs of each department in the college, according to Brannon.

“An architect will be established through the procedures of the State University Construction Fund and the programmatic definition committee,” said Brannon.

The discovery of deficiencies in the floor slabs of the building by SUNY and Cornell experts prompted the evacuation that relocated all professor emerti, graduate assistants, the Family Development Center, the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center and the Media and Technology Services Center.

“Use of the Mann building provides us some extra space. But we will need to surge out of there to allow the [Mann] renovation project to begin,” said Oldendorf.

“It’s been hard on our students because we no longer have a student commons,” said Oldendorf.

Once funding is secured, construction may begin as early as Sept. 2004 with completion of the new building slated for Sept. 2007, according to Dullea.

Archived article by Dan Webb