September 15, 2007

Cornell Changes Design for Milstein Hall

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Months of negotiations between Cornell University and the City of Ithaca’s Board of Public Works regarding the impending construction of Milstein Hall may have come to an end this Wednesday when Cornell announced a new design for Milstein Hall, one that would not involve construction on both sides University Avenue.

The new plans, similar to the previous ones, include a structure that crosses University Avenue. However, as the building was formerly supported by columns on the opposite side of the street, it now is supported by a cantilever, a structural beam which supports the building from one side.

Original plans for Milstein Hall’s, which included building on both sides of University Avenue, has been a topic of contention between Cornell and the City of Ithaca. As Cornell claims it has the original title for the road, the City asserts that since the road has been around for two centuries, historical documentation is difficult to verify.

This new design, according to Shirley Egan, associate University counsel, will cost Cornell more than a million dollars. However, it will eliminate the need for Milstein Hall to go through levels of City bureaucracy, such as the Board of Public Works, a process which has been costing Cornell $100,000 a month in negotiations and delays, according to the Ithaca Journal.

There will be no need for Cornell to straighten University Avenue, which was part of the original plan, and as there will be no more structural beams on the public sidewalks, there is no need to get BPW approval, according to the Ithaca Journal. Also, the building will now be 15 feet off the ground, which is in line with all state requirements.

“We are optimistic that construction will still begin in the spring,” Egan said.

She even sees this design change as one making the construction process easier. “It would be much more time consuming to put columns on the other side of the road,” she said.