September 12, 2007

Cornell Moves Some Offices to East Hill

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Cornell University has moved 160 employees from several of its non-academic departments to a new office building it recently opened behind the East Hill Plaza off Pine Tree Road. In addition to creating more space for faculty and students on campus, the three-story, 60,000 square foot East Hill Office Building will accommodate several administrative functions by allowing staff to collaborate more easily on a day-to-day basis.
“We used to be spread out in five different locations across campus. Now we’re down the hall from one another,” said Margaret Matta, a division project manager.
Furthermore, the EHOB is equipped with joint meeting rooms, video conferencing technology and a furnished lobby where up to 40 employees can converge.
“It’s an open business environment,” Matta said.
According to Richard McDaniel, vice president of business services and environmental safety, Cornell had not initially decided which divisions it planned to move to East Hill, so it designed the space to be municipal. “That was part of [Vice President for Planning and Budget] Carolyn Ainslee’s vision for the project,” said McDaniel. “A flexible space that is made highly efficient by its logical continuity of related functions.”
McDaniel stressed that the move will serve the University’s mission of disseminating information to its students by prohibiting non-student-related services from occupying space on central campus. He did acknowledge, however, that as a result of this consolidation of administrative departments off campus, “you lose a little bit of the ambiance of an academic setting, which is one of the advantages of working for Cornell.”
To compensate and facilitate ease of transport when interaction with staff or activities on campus is necessary, the University has instituted an East Hill Shuttle Service that runs every ten minutes between the EHOB at 395 Pine Tree Rd. and stops at Statler, Barton and Uris Halls. “There’s also free parking here,” said McDaniel.
Not all of the departments that have been moved into the new office were located on central campus to begin with. Melissa Baldassarre, project manager for the building, stated in an e-mail that Research Administration Information Services, Financial Support Services for Research and the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance were moved off campus two years ago into temporary office space until the new building was complete.
“There was a backlist of departments to be moved into the existing off-campus space, so when the functions that were occupying it moved into the EHOB, it did free up space on campus via domino effect,” said Thomas LiVigne, interim director of Cornell Real Estate.
LiVigne inherited the project, which took 18 months to complete, from his predecessor John Majeroni, who accepted a position with another university in April. LiVigne also stated that the local Ithaca firm Integrated Acquisition and Development was responsible for developing the project, and its financial funding was provided by Cornell’s Central University Budget.