September 18, 2002

New Ornithology Lab Construction Underway

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Construction of the new Cornell Lab of Ornithology, set on Sapsucker Pond, will be complete by Feb. 2003, according to Scott Sutcliffe ’75, lab associate director. The new facility will provide a variety of expanded resources for professors, students, researchers and bird enthusiasts alike.

Five times the size of the previous building, the new lab will feature facilities for visitors including a bird observation room, a visitors’ center and public access to the Macaulay Library of Animal Behavior.

With its bird-safe floor-to-ceiling glass windows, the observation room will offer visitors the chance to watch the many varieties of species that make their home in the Sapsucker Woods sanctuary.

The visitors’ center will include a variety of educational, interactive exhibits. Along with the traditional displays, the center will have a Sight and Sound Theater, featuring sounds from the Macaulay Library of Animal Behavior, a kiosk to listen to different bird sounds and a booth where visitors can manipulate various bird sounds electronically.

“I think it will become a major stopping point for tourists in Ithaca,” said Jack Bradbury, library director. “It helps bring the public in touch with all of the stuff they won’t be able to see behind the scenes.”

Although the lab currently attracts between 20,000 and 25,000 visitors a year, Sutcliffe expects the new facility to draw four times as many people in the future.

Beyond the visitors’ center, the lab will allow access to the entire Macaulay Library, which includes 150,000 sound recordings and high quality video of over 2,500 species. To facilitate accessibility, the library is currently converting all of its recordings into digital media. Once the new lab and the conversion process are completed, individuals will be able to access the collection from both the Internet and the library itself.

Many of the same facilities that will benefit the public will also benefit students.

Previously, the old lab had no space to house student facilities. With the expansion, the new lab will feature study carrels, easy access to the library and other student friendly services.

“The new building is designed for students,” Sutcliffe said.

However, due to the off-campus location of the lab, many students are limited by transportation problems. To lessen this issue in the future, the

lab staff hopes to offer a public transportation system to shuttle students between campus and the new facility.

“We think that [the new lab] will facilitate student-faculty interactions in a positive way,” Sutcliffe said.

Ron Rohrbaugh, director of the Citizen Science program, encouraged students to become involved with the laboratory.

“We’d love to have more students working at the lab, especially as work study, volunteers or interns,” he said.

The Citizen Science program involves people from all over the country to record and observe birds in their local area.

The new building will have many benefits for the laboratory staff as well. With limited room and a growing staff, many employees are currently spread

out over several buildings.

“Citizen Science is a discipline that works with a lot of other people