September 13, 2006

Master Planners Seek Undergrad Input on Future Plans for Cornell

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Last night undergraduates had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Comprehensive Master Plan, which, when delivered a year from now, may guide Cornell’s physical development for the next few decades.

At the reception in the Alice Cook House Seminar Room, representatives from two of the firms involved in the plan sought undergraduate input on a wide range of topics; however, very few undergraduates showed up. Cindy Rottenberg-Walker of Urban Strategies Inc., one of the firms involved with the CMP, admitted, “It’s a big struggle to get people interested.”

Still, the discussion spanned a variety of topics, including the fragmentation of Cornell housing into North, West and Collegetown, whether the next life science technology building should be on Alumni Field, how tall the building should be and what lessons could be learned from other campuses. Rottenbeg-Walker asked the students to circle on a map of Cornell what they thought of as the “Cornell campus.”

Throughout the meeting, the consultants present asked a wide range of questions. Some were straightforward: “Do you guys ever go to Duffield Hall?” asked Ben Hoff of Urban Strategies Inc. Answered Mohamad Jardaneh ’09, “It’s the closest thing to a student union for me.”

Some questions were more abstract: “If you’re going to come back in 20 years, where would you go?” asked Rottenberg-Walker. Grayson Fahrner ’08 quickly answered Lynah Rink, which he called “Memory Capital.”

But some questions were unanswerable: “How do you deal with winter?” asked University Planner Minakshi Amundsen. There was no response.

CMP planners have been working to understand Cornell since they were named last April. They say they have been in contact with over 300 peopl,e including locals in the surrounding neighborhoods and municipalities, Cornell staff members and students, particularly those in the Student Assembly and involved in the Greek System.