September 22, 2010

AAP Accreditation in the Clear as Milstein Hall Construction Continues

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With the construction of Milstein Hall well underway on the Arts Quad, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning received re-accreditation for its bachelor and masters degree-granting programs in the field of architecture in late August. Although some supporters of Milstein Hall argued that the building was necessary for maintaining full accreditation for AAP’s master’s degree program, the college’s danger of actually losing its accreditation appears to have been rather small.

“So far in the [National Architectural Accreditation Board’s] history, one program has had its accreditation revoked. The program was recently reinstated following a term of candidacy,” stated Andrea Rutledge, NAAB executive director, via e-mail.

According to the NAAB’s Procedures for Accreditation, a program must have made “insufficient progress … during a two-year probationary term to warrant a three-year term [of re-accreditation]” in order to lose its accreditation.

On the question of whether the architecture programs would have lost their accreditation, Aaron Goldweber, director of communications for AAP, said, “It’s hard to know. The feeling is that in visiting reports, they say yes. They say the facilities are limited.”

At a Faculty Senate Committee meeting in February, 2009, AAP Dean Kent Kleinman said, “We are in extreme danger of losing accreditation if our facility’s needs are not met. Anything less than a new structure is a risky course to engage here.”

“I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that if we hadn’t built Milstein we would have lost all our accreditation; I don’t know whether that’s true or not,” Goldweber said on Sept. 15. “But we do not,” Goldweber said on Sept. 15. “But we do know that in previous reports, it was identified [that] facilities were a weakness and a challenge, and certainly when we got the positive accreditation reports it said, ‘now you’re building Milstein Hall, that’s what we need to see, that’s great.’”

After a re-accreditation visit to Cornell in 2007, a team from the NAAB stated in its report that the accreditation status of the Master’s of Architecture program in particular was up in the air.

“The physical resources of this program are substandard and in particular do not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the report stated.

Adding elevators and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms to Sibley Hall was one of the first steps in the Milstein/Rand/Sibley construction and renovation process.

“This deficiency must be corrected before the accreditation of [the M. Arch] program,” the report stated. “The team recommends a definitive plan, timeline and funding source in place to implement the appropriate corrections before the accreditation of this degree program.”

Another team, which wrote the NAAB’s 2010 Bachelor’s of Architecture re-accreditation report, seemed impressed that Milstein Hall was constructed during a time of fiscal restraint and construction pauses on projects across the University.

“While the NAAB’s position certainly forced the university to make difficult budgetary decisions, it was obvious from the team’s discussion with the vice provost that the AAP, and especially the Department of Architecture, enjoyed a unique position of support and confidence within the Cornell academic family and that the decision was appropriate and necessary,” the report stated.

Now, with the college’s new re-accreditation, construction at AAP continues.

“I’m quite happy with [the construction]. From my little bubble in Rand Hall, it seems like a lot of the uproar over it subsided after the project was given the green light and now that it’s gone through,” said Zachary Newton, M. Arch ’10. “It’s been great to watch the building go up. I’ve seen a lot of people not in architecture stopping at various points and just watching the building come together. There’s a more positive reception to the building now that the building is actually started. I look forward to coming back and seeing it complete.”

Milstein Hall’s architects, lead by Rem Koolhaas, are aiming for a Silver LEED certification for the building.

According to LEED’s website, certification is a points-based system based upon categories including sustainable sites and indoor environmental quality.

“Some of the key design features that will allow the building to obtain a LEED Silver certification include an expansive vegetated roof to mitigate storm water runoff, extensive use of glass and skylights to take advantage of daylight and reduce energy consumption and the use of chilled beam cooling and radiant floor slabs to provide a high level of occupant comfort and conserve energy,” said Andrew Magre, associate University architect.

The LEED certification process takes place after construction is completed, which is projected for summer 2011. The team of architects working on Milstein Hall plan to submit their application to the U.S. Green Building Council after the building is completed.

“Basically, we’ve been a growing school and our space has not grown,” Newton said. “Something [had to] be done, something more than just renovating existing spaces. They wouldn’t magically produce more square footage than already existed.”

AAP Dean Kent Kleinman declined comment for this article.

Original Author: Emily Coon