July 28, 2007

West Campus Gets New Look After Recent Renovations

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This article appears in the 2007 edition of The Sun’s annual freshman issue.

Spring semester saw the opening of two newly built facilities on West Campus: Noyes Community and Recreation Center and Hans Bethe House. West Campus is home to many of Cornell’s sophomores and juniors living in fraternities, sororities and the West Campus dorms.
Some of the West Campus dorms – known as the Gothics – are traditional residence halls. This summer, the last of the “Class of” Halls on West — Class of ’21, ’26, etc. — were demolished. Some upperclassmen also live in Cornell’s two dorms in Collegetown: Sheldon Court and Cascadilla Hall.
Bethe is the third of the five residential houses to be built as part of the West Campus Residential Initiative. The residential houses work on a house system, which McCouch calls a “Harry Potter type atmosphere,” referring to the residential colleges of Hogwarts.
“The wall between the academic and the living side of things [doesn’t exist],” McCouch said.
Instead of undergraduate residential advisors, there are Graduate Resident Fellows who are responsible for programming.
“The idea of the house system is to build community,” McCouch said.
The fourth and fifth residential houses should be completed by fall 2008.
The new dorm is equipped with a 350-person dining hall, a pantry, a library, a TV lounge, a music room and a laundry room, all of which are open 24 hours. West Side Express, located on the south facade of Bethe, serves students as late as 3 a.m. on weekends.
The new Noyes features a 13-foot high climbing wall, pool and air hockey tables and an outdoor basketball court. On the lower level, students can play board games, watch television, relax and study.
The new facility also has three lounges with wireless internet, a large multipurpose room designed for fitness classes and several smaller rooms used for meetings.
On the upper level there is a new fitness center, with state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Below the fitness center there is a 6,400 square foot basketball and volleyball court.
Cosmo’s, the new convenience store located in Noyes, has new items not previously sold on West Campus, including Starbucks coffee and espresso, bubble tea, gelato and cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.
“We’ve also added a full line of kosher products for students on West Campus,” said Cosmo’s Operations Manager Harry Ashendorf.
According to building director Jen Gudaz, Cornell’s goal was to design a facility that offers recreation activities and serves as a community-gathering place for students on West Campus.
The Alice Cook House, which opened in fall 2004, was named for a late professor from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations; Cook was one of the first academics to focus on the issues of working women. Carl Becker was a University historian and professor of history at Cornell from 1917 to 1941; Becker House opened in August 2005.
William Keeton was a profeesor of biology at Cornell. Hans Bethe was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who taught at Cornell from 1935 to 1975. The newly named William Keeton House is scheduled to open in August 2008; the fifth – unnamed – house is scheduled to open in August 2009.