April 3, 2002

Architects Change Milstein Hall Design

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The design plans for the infrastructure of Milstein Hall, the $25 million dollar College of Architecture, Art and Planning building set to replace Rand Hall in fall of 2005, have changed dramatically.

The changes in the design are a result of budgetary restraints and input from faculty and the Cornell community.

“We have a good but very tight budget … [and] very little budget flexibility,” said Porus Olpadwala, dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

The original design of Milstein Hall, conceived by architect Steven Holl of Steven Holl Architects, was over budget, according to Olpadwala.

“The design has since been adjusted to fall within the budget,” Olpadwala said.

There have been four major changes to the interior design of the building, according to John P. McKeown ’73, project director of Milstein Hall.

First, the building has been reduced from seven floors to six. In reducing the building’s size, adjustments had to be made to the placement of Milstein’s Hall auditorium and work shop.

The building’s auditorium will now be housed at the ground level, while the work shops will be located in the levels above the auditorium.

Additionally, the “protected connection” between Milstein Hall and Sibley Hall has also been modified, although McKeown could not yet confirm in what ways.

Finally, the campus passage “gateway” design has been made smaller. It will serve as a connection between North Campus and Central Campus that looks into a lower ground floor containing an exhibition gallery and the auditorium.

“We are paying more attention to budget and suggestions,” Olpadwala said. “The entire building is just a little smaller now.”

Changes to Milstein Hall come on the heels of dispute between University officials and alumni organizations about the design and placement of Milstein Hall in the Arts Quad.

In a Jan. 15 letter to Dean Olpadwala, Bob Zeidman ’81 of Zeidman Consulting called the proposed design for Milstein Hall “a nightmarish block [that is] dark and disturbing and out of character with the nearby Arts Quad.”

While the recent interior changes proposed for Milstein Hall will not address the aesthetic concerns of many alumni, Olpadwala insists that “much of the consternation about the looks of Milstein Hall may stem from the unfortunate image that first was disseminated.”

Olpadwala has also pledged to consider the suggestions of alumni and other members of the Cornell community and keep lines of communication open.

Milstein Hall will have a finalized schematic design within six weeks, according to Olpadwala.

The project will then enter four to six months of design development, followed by a four month period of construction documentation. Then, the project will be presented to construction companies for bidding.

“We still are hoping for a mid – 2003 groundbreaking, If we succeed in that, Milstein Hall will be ready in late fall 2005 or early 2006,” Olpadwala said.

Archived article by Marc Zawel