January 29, 2004

Duffield Hall Almost Ready

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Although students returning to the Engineering Quad after break may not have noticed much change from the end of last semester, the first phase of construction at Duffield Hall is finally complete. The building, named after David Duffield ’62, is now occupied by the Cornell Nanofabrication Center (CNF). Duffield Hall, which has been under construction since June 2000, will be home to branches of the Nanobiotechnology Center (NBTC) and the Cornell Center for Materials Research (CCMR) by the end of March. Other researchers are being considered to fill the rest of the second and third floor offices and 22 laboratories.

Keeping in mind the project’s theme of “promoting interaction and the sharing of ideas” the next phase of construction is to complete the atrium that will connect the south end of Phillips Hall, via indoor bridges, to Duffield and Upson Halls, said Amy Ritter, project manager.

Because Duffield Hall contains space for researchers from many different departments and colleges, “people can collaborate and work together” in ways they had not previously been capable, said Bill Bader, Duffield Hall facility manager. The atrium, according to Bader, “will also encourage collaboration and interaction among students.”

Ritter explained that studies show that shared spaces, such as the atrium with its open areas, nooks with tables and computer hook-ups, and dining facility, can promote this sharing just as much as an interdisciplinary laboratory in Duffield Hall itself. The space is “a natural gathering place,” Bader said.

“The schedule is extremely tight,” said Brian Brown, construction manager. But, the crew is trying to complete the atrium for graduation in June 2004. The application for a temporary certificate of occupancy will be submitted at the end of May. A dedication ceremony will take place in October to coincide with a gala celebration of the 25th anniversary of CNF.

The Engineering Quad, which was covered in construction material during the destruction of Knight Laboratory in November, will have a completely new look by the end of the spring. At the beginning of the school year, a layer of topsoil was put down and the land was regraded. Once the land thaws, shrubs and trees will be planted. However, there is no set date of completion for the landscaping project. “Landscaping is entirely weather-dependent,” Ritter said.

Other parts of the construction project, however, have not stalled despite the cold weather. Because Phillips Hall will open into the atrium, its south wall is being remodeled. One of the biggest challenges faced by construction workers in this weather is “keeping the spaces enclosed during construction,” Ritter said. To deal with this obstacle, walls are torn down in the morning and replaced on the same day by temporary plastic covers to allow for continued use of the classrooms.

Brown also noted the difficulty of working in the winter. “Cold weather is the enemy of outdoor construction,” he said. Costs rise during the winter months as a result of insulation materials, heat sources, and even accommodations made for concrete to be laid without freezing.

Many undergraduates in the engineering school are unaware of their ability to use Duffield Hall. Ritter explained that there is a teaching laboratory in the clean room and undergraduates will have access to some classrooms. Despite the building’s focus on specific engineering-related research, “this building is for Cornell,” Ritter said.

Duffield Hall “makes Cornell University the very best location in the world