February 23, 2005

Board Approves New Life Sciences Building

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The City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board granted final site plan approval to the University for its proposed Life Sciences Technology Building last night.

Bob Stundtner, project director for Science and Technology Management, led a team of Cornell representatives as they presented the University’s proposal.

That team included Steve Beyer representing PDC Environmental Compliance, Cindy Sanders, who represented Cornell’s landscape architect — Olin Partnership — and Renny Logan, associate partner of the design firm Meier and Partners.

Logan informed the board that the new structure will be “one of Cornell’s most important buildings.”

The team assuaged all of the Board’s concerns, which ranged from issues of tree transplantation and security issues, locations of Blue Light emergency telephones to the materials used in construction.

The Life Sciences Technology Building will be the $140 million, four-story centerpiece in Cornell’s Life Sciences Initiative. The Life Sciences Initiative is concerned with research relating to life processes and molecular cellular interaction. It is a $600 million program and is the University’s single largest scientific endeavor to date. It encompasses seven colleges and up to 60 different departments.

The building, which is located on the west end of Alumni Field, will have tunnels connecting it to the Biotechnology Building, the Plant Science Building across Tower Road and to an exisitng tunnel between Corson Hall and Mudd Hall.

These tunnels will serve to reinforce the initiative’s cross-disciplinary approach.

Richard Meier ’56 is the self-described “figurehead” of a large team of architects from the New York design firm Meier and Partners and this building will be reminiscent of his other projects, such as the Getty Center in Los Angeles and Jubilee Church in Rome.

The building will be largely constructed with white tiles and glass which will allow natural light to play a core aesthetic part in the building.

Additionally, it will be broken in half by a large atrium.

This reliance on glass will open the building up to observers.

“When you drive by the building, you will see exactly what is going on, which lends a sense of accountability,” Logan said.

According to Stundtner the next step in the project is to notify neighbors of the beginning of construction and to soothe any complaints that they raise in reaction to the construction process.

He is hopeful that construction will begin in early June and the building is slated to be completed by 2007.

It will be the largest life sciences research building in New York State. Cornell has already received $25 million from the State of New York under the Genesis Project.

Archived article by Michael Margolis
Sun Senior Writer