September 5, 2006

Maas Psyched for Bailey Hall Opening

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After three years of construction, the new Bailey Hall is now open for business. As one of Cornell’s most historic auditoriums, this building houses the Cornell Concert Series, special events, such as tomorrow’s academic symposium, and the University’s largest class, Psych 101: Introduction to Psychology: The Frontiers of Psychological Inquiry .
The building has gone through major upgrades, which, according to Psych 101’s Prof. James Maas, the S.H. Weiss Presidential Fellow of Psychology, include features such as a projecting system that shows as many as three videos independently, an audio system that can be clearly heard and a lighting system that allows students to take notes without distorting the images on screen.
“I’m like a kid in the candy store,” said Maas, who has been waiting 43 years for an auditorium of this magnitude to complement his class. “It just stimulates me to push the envelope in the delivery of enriched education,” he said.
Maas had served on Bailey Hall’s renovation committee for about 20 years before the new auditorium was approved and tailor-made for his course.
For the past three years, Psychology 101 has been held in Statler Auditorium, which seats a mere 715 students, compared to the new Bailey Hall’s 1,326 seats. With the new building now open, the class can accommodate the larger class size. Although 1,326 seats is actually a downgrade from the 1,948 seat auditorium that was up before, Maas said, “I think [the students’] experience has been instantly enhanced by the beautification and new technology.”
Alexander James ’10, a student enrolled in Psychology 101, agrees with the benefits of the new technology, but he pointed out a lack of writing surfaces on the seats.
“It’s obvious that Bailey Hall is more attractive than other auditoriums, but it doesn’t have the same writing surfaces as the other ones do; it isn’t easier to take notes on.”
But, aside from that issue, James said, “I’ve had no problems hearing or seeing the presentations so far, and the presentations depend on them, so it is good that they work well.”
Despite the building’s opening this semester, the Bailey Hall renovation project is still not complete, according to James Kazda, associate director of contract colleges facilities, because modifications were made late into construction to coordinate for the Bailey Plaza project.
Bailey Plaza is an area in front of the building designed to replace the parking spaces to provide a park-like area for people to sit and interact.
Unlike before, the new Bailey Hall has its own director and technician. This will help keep the facility running at its peak for many years to come. It also has an air-conditioning system, more comfortable seating, wheelchair accessibility, an electronic wizardry system to provide subtitles for the hearing impaired and much more. According to Maas, though, to fully understand this innovative auditorium, one must experience it in person.