August 29, 2002

Hotel School Awaits Start of Renovation

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Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration will be next to undergo construction following last spring’s proposal for a 35,000 square foot expansion to the Barton Hall side of the Statler Hall.

Despite initial controversy spurned by the plans for the removal of the Statler Auditorium’s stage, the project is progressing and the renovated auditorium will now include a stage, according to Meg Overstrom ’88, public affairs officer in the Office of Development.

When plans for an addition to the hotel school and a renovation of the Statler Auditorium were announced in February, many student performance groups were alarmed and upset with the plans to remove the facility’s stage. This provoked a campus-wide discussion about the lack of space for student performances.

“They are taking the opportunity to perform away from us [by removing the stage],” Samantha Rifkin ’02 told The Sun in February.

Overstrom added that since the initial plans were publicized, the new building has been redesigned and reconfigured.

According to the hotel school’s website, the construction project will provide, “classroom, teaching, and computer facilities, along with a significant expansion in public spaces and a full refurbishment of Statler Auditorium.”

The Beck Center will consist of tiered classrooms, three case study rooms including one equipped with distance-learning equipment, eight interview rooms, two informal meeting rooms, as well as a board-room style hospitality suite for visitors and courtyard with a three-story glass atrium, according to Overstrom.

In 2000, the estimated cost of construction was $13.5 million. “We have raised over $13 million to date, yet the final costs may be higher than the initial estimates due to inflation and other factors, approximately $16 million,” Overstrum said.

All funds for the Beck Center have been raised from alumni donations.

The addition will be named in honor of Robert and Jan M. Beck. Robert Beck served as the second dean of the hotel school from 1961 to 1981, according to the Cornell Chronicle. Under his direction, the School of Hotel Administration doubled in the number of students enrolled and added a Master of Professional Studies program.

Demolition to prepare the site is scheduled to begin in December 2002 or January 2003. The first classes in the Beck Center are scheduled to be held in the fall of 2004.

“Last year in a required class there weren’t enough desks in the classroom,” Hotel student Casey Fishman ’05 said. “It will be nice to have more space.”

Archived article by Chris Mitchell