October 29, 2002

Search Begins for Milstein Architect

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Four architecture firms from around the world will come to Ithaca this week in hopes of being selected as the future architects of Milstein Hall, the $25 million building that will replace Rand Hall, becoming the new home of the College of Art, Architecture and Planning’s architecture department.

Following the University’s recent split with original Milstein Hall architect Steven Holl, a selection committee — comprised of the University architect Peter Karp and officials from the architecture college, the Office of Buildings and Properties and the architecture department — was formed to choose the replacement architecture firm.

The search for a new architect was not publicly advertised, according to Karp. Instead, representatives from the architecture department invited eight firms to participate in the search. Four of those firms accepted.

The selection committee will engage in discussions with the firms about their previous designs throughout the week. The committee will select a firm by the end of the semester based on these discussions and reference checks, according to Karp.

“[The discussions] will be behind closed doors,” said Porus Olpadwala, dean of the architecture. “That is the standard way to choose a firm.”

If the firm begins designing in January, construction will begin by fall 2004 at the earliest, according to Karp.

Even though it did not anticipate having to select a firm before this summer, the committee has not altered the original criteria for Milstein Hall’s design.

“We are looking for a highly functional building,” Olpadwala said. “Because it is a building for an architecture school, we have requirements for its quantity and quality of space. It also must be good looking, but that doesn’t mean fancy.”

The University parted ways with Holl last summer after the two parties could not compromise on the budget and the proposed design of Milstein Hall. Many students and alumni were pleased with the decision to scrap Holl’s controversial design for the building. Holl proposed a cubic structure with glass on three sides and metal panels on the fourth. Many felt that the building would not have fit in well with the rest of the buildings on the Arts Quad.

Olpadwala noted, however, that the committee will not take considerations of potential opposition into account when selecting a firm.

“Many alumni didn’t like [Holl’s design], but as many liked it,” he said. “Only people who didn’t like it complained.”

The decision to split with Holl has no relation to the proposal to dissolve the architecture college, President Hunter R. Rawlings III said in a September interview with The Sun.

A panel of independent architecture experts unanimously selected Holl’s design of Milstein Hall in April 2001 following a competition involving four architecture firms.

Archived article by Stephanie Hankin