March 17, 2011

University Delays Renovation of Lab in Geneva

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The $3.75 million renovation of Cornell’s Agricultural Sciences Research Lab in Geneva, N.Y., has been put on hold until additional funding is received, according to Darlene Hackworth, the project’s manager. The plan included a “gut renovation” of the entire building, said Jim Kazda, the senior director of facilities in Cornell’s contract colleges. The purpose of the project was to “remove all of the people and the research from the building and take it down from the interior, rebuilding it as a modern laboratory building,” Kazda said.The agricultural research lab is part of Cornell’s Geneva Agriculture Experiment Station, a horticulture research and extension center. The research lab works with a broad variety of members of the agriculture industry, from “consumers to small processors to large processors to farmers to state and federal regulators,” according to Prof. Randy Worobo, food science, a member of the committee that oversaw the planning of the new renovation.Worboro expressed concern that putting off the renovations would limit the research capabilities of faculty and students. The renovations included “better training facilities to educate not only students, but our industry people,” Worboro said.“In a lot of respects, [the laboratories] are not made for typical research that is conducted nowadays,” Worboro said.Hackworth, the projects manager, said the laboratory was constructed in the 1960s and has not had any major renovations since. “If you’ve even been through the building, you’ll know that it’s dated,” she said.Hackworth added that the project was necessary to address “mechanical, electrical and fire alarm” issues. The postponed project would have addressed these problems, she said.Kazda, senior director of facilities in Cornell’s contract colleges, said the University decided to prioritize other projects, such as the renovation of Stocking Hall, the home of Cornell’s Food Science Department and the Dairy Bar. Stocking Hall is undergoing a $101.8 million renovation and is one of the many projects, including the Geneva laboratory, reliant on the State University Construction Fund.“With the economy the way it is, we’re just trying to address the most important issues right now,” Kazda said. According to Kazda, only two to nine percent of the total money for improvements of contract college facilities is paid with private Cornell funds, with the rest originating from the state. Hackworth, who collaborated with a Syracuse architecture firm to redesign the research lab, said she was not frustrated about the decision not to allocate funds to the project.“As a project manager, you understand — especially at this time that we’re at — it’s really critical that we have the funding available to do the work that we have on campus,” she said.The news to hold the project comes with “a lot of disappointment,” for Worobo, he said. “I guess we’ll just have to make do with what we have for the next five years,” he said.

Original Author: Shane Dunau