March 5, 2010

Construction Projects Wait to Be Revived After Suspension

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With an ever-declining economy, Cornell’s Facilities Management team reports that the current capitol projects are on time and within budget despite the pause on some construction projects.

When walking around campus it is hard to miss the changing landscape with new buildings and renovations constantly underway. There are currently well over 100 projects approved by the University to begin this spring. These projects vary significantly in time, length and budget allocation.

In October 2008 the University put a pause on most construction projects in order to re-evaluate proposed projects. Since that time, the University says that it has approved only the most important construction.

The approved projects include everything from developing a master plan for bathroom renovation in several residence halls to stabilizing the Cascadilla gorge trail so that it is safe for walking and can be re-opened. Funding for these changes comes from a variety of sources including the SUNY Capitol Plan, donor gifts and Maintenance Management.

University architect Robert Delgado leads projects for the endowed schools on campus and also oversees architectural planning for both the endowed and statutory schools on campus.

Delgado said that he keeps architectural history in mind with every project. He said, “The Cornell campus is composed of buildings of varying architectural styles, even the older buildings around the Arts Quad.”

“This tradition has continued throughout the history of the campus with fine examples of different architectural expressions,” Delgado said.

Many of these architectural expressions are also energy efficient. In keeping with the re-evaluation of critical projects, all the construction currently underway will benefit the University in one way or another.

One example of this is the construction of Milstein Hall. Milstein will connect the second floor of Rand Hall with the second floor of Sibley Hall. The hope is to unify the existing programs, which are currently in four different buildings in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

According to the website for approved capitol projects, the design of the building “creates a central arrival and gathering space for the college within the historic context of the site and the adjacent Arts Quad.”

With such a large project comes even larger costs. According to the Facilities Services website, the estimated total budget for the Milstein Hall project is $55.5 million. This will be funded by a combination of donor contributions, unrestricted college gifts and University resources. The University will assume $12 million of the cost of the project, of which $7.6 million is debt. The remainder will be covered by the college and by philanthropy.

“Our goal is to produce functional and truly expressive buildings that harmonize with the entire campus,” Delgado said.

According to Delgado, seven of the approved projects are currently underway and the rest will continue to be picked up through out the semester.

Original Author: Erika Hooker