November 9, 2006

City Voices Concerns About Milstein Plans

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Cornell representatives meet today with William Gray, superintendent of public works, to discuss Milstein Hall planning and potential complications of building above a city road. In the current design, a portion of Milstein Hall extends over University Avenue; according to project leader John McKeown ’73, the building will be about 18 feet above the road, in accordance with the city requirements. The clearance standard set by the U.S. Department of Transportation is 14.6 feet.

However, there are certain concerns that go along with building over roads.
“You don’t usually build things over streets — they have to be maintained and the things under them have to be maintained,” Gray said.

He said that there are not many situations like that in Ithaca and mentioned potential difficulties in terms of vehicle clearance, fixing water mains and general maintenance. Smaller equipment might be needed to have clearance under the building, meaning that it would take longer to complete the same work, which could increase the cost, Gray said.

The designs show the 43,000-square-foot building extending over University Avenue to 15 feet from the Foundry, in accordance with the building code requirements, according to Andrew Magre ’91 project manager for Planning, Design and Construction.

“The biggest issue is … to make sure that our current design is on budget,” he said.

The approved budget for the building is $40 million.

The Milstein Hall project is currently in the schematic design phase and was pulled from the City’s Planning and Development Board last agenda. According to McKeown, there was no urgent reason for removing the project from the agenda.

“It should’ve been removed before … it was never on the viable agenda.”

Cornell has not yet submitted a building permit application. Construction is slated to begin at the end of next year.