November 27, 2011

Ithaca Planning Board Approves Gates Hall

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The site plan review for Gates Hall — the last city approval necessary for the building’s construction — was unanimously approved by the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board at a meeting Tuesday.

Designs were swiftly approved after Cornell first submitted its proposal earlier this fall, said John Schroeder ’74, chair of the board and The Sun’s Production Manager.

The University agreed to resolve minor site plan issues, Schroeder said. These included the modification of a terraced landscape feature thought to have potential safety issues, and the relocation of stone pillars that served as the original Hoy Field entrance to a new location where they will continue to serve as a pedestrian gateway.

“[The relocation] is now a site feature that not only links to history, but will also physically link the site to the Engineering Quad,” Schroeder said.

Plans for Gates Hall, anew $60 million building for the Department of Computing and Information Sciences, were released by the University on March 21.

The building will be located across Campus Road from Barton Hall on the current site of the Grumman Squash Courts parking lot.

According to Schroeder, the board was initially concerned that “a gorge-like element of the landscape design” — irregular stepped stone layers that will rise up in front of the building — could be mistaken for stairs and present safety concerns.

“A linear bench was added along the borrom of this area to establish a clear boundary between the Hoy Road sidewalk and the landscape element, and there is also a wall up above on the entry plaza side,” Schroeder said. “These clarifications addressed our concerns about safety.”

The board has also recently received more detailed drawings of the building.

“The initial drawings we received were blurry in an artistic manner and hard to make out — we needed clarification of what the building actually looked like,” Schroeder said.

The only building project on campus to be funded without incurring additional debt, Gates Hall’s final designs are estimated to be completed by early 2012, said Dan Huttenlocher, dean of computing and information science.

The $60 million project will be primarily financed by a $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the University received in 2006.

The rest of the project will be financed through philanthropy and fundraising, Huttenlocher said.

Original Author: Liz Camuti