October 23, 2002

Construction Continues on Campus

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To many on campus, construction seems as common as clouds here, with cranes dotting the Cornell skyline and scaffolding surrounding buildings. Currently, the University expects to spend $130 million on construction this year and the amount will increase in the next few years as projects “still in their nascent stage move through the design and construction process,” said Steve Wright, director of the Planning, Construction and Design (PDC) administration.

Current and upcoming projects include construction on Duffield Hall, West Campus, Martha van Rensselaer Hall, the Cornell Mouse Facility, the lab of ornithology, the Baker Institute, Helen Newman Hall, Schoellkopf Memorial Hall, the parking garage and the Hotel School.

One of the most prominent projects affecting students will be the West Campus Residential Initiative (WCRI).

“The purpose of the WCRI is to install a ‘house system’ on west campus. The house system differs in many ways from the existing residential experience on west campus,” said John Kiefer, associate director of the PDC administration.

The project to construct these new dorms — aimed at promoting creativity and leadership among upperclass students — will be designed and completed in five phases. The design of phase 1 is almost finished and construction will begin in the spring. The expected completion of the final phase is in 2010.

In addition to the new housing, another notable project will be the construction to replace Martha van Rensselaer Hall. The plan came after the building was, “condemned in July 2001 due to structural problems discovered during a renovation project,” said Gregg Travis, director of Contract College Facilities.

The State of New York which is funding the project has already hired an architect to plan and design the project. The replacement is expected to be completed in 2007.

“The College of Human Ecology will gain little from the new building as far as new space but the new building will meet modern building code requirements including accessibility. [It will also] have updated building systems and new equipment and furniture,” Travis said.

In addition to construction on academic and residential facilities, athletic buildings will also receive attention. Plans for the renovation of the Schoellkopf Memorial Hall to house the football program are underway. The proposed construction will, ” enlarge[e] the Varsity Locker Room to the east and the placement of a football Tradition Room [on] the second floor which will be centered on the Football Field and situated on top of a renovated or reconstructed Hall of Fame Room,” said Bob Blakeney, project manager of the PDC architectural section. “We are working toward a Project Budget within an upset limit of $8 million.”

Construction could begin as early as next fall and will take 14 months.

Generally, construction projects range in cost from $70,000 to renovate a few rooms to several million dollars to build a dormitory. “The university defines a capital project to be an effort greater than $50,000. There are about 150 such efforts each year, some years more, some years less,” said Wright.

Such projects require approval from the Board of Trustees as well as the Capital Funding and Priorities Committee (CFPC) when projects cost over half a million dollars.

“Projects are initiated from any number of sources, [such as an] individual college or research center,” said Tom Cole, director of Capital Budget and Space Planning.

These projects improve the athletic facilities, the research laboratories, and campus housing. In addition, a number of maintenance projects related to the University’s infrastructure are necessary. These include upkeep and renovation of roads and parking lots.

Archived article by Diana Lo