April 30, 2013

Cornell Students, Professors Eagerly Await Gates Hall

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As Gates Hall rises on campus, information science and computer science students and professors expressed excitement and anticipation for the building’s opening.

The new $60-million computing and information sciences building — founded in part by a $25-million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — will include a large conference room, various project labs and a four-story atrium. It is tentatively scheduled to be completed in Dec. 2013, according to the Gates Hall blog on Cornell’s website.

Halpern said that, as of now, the building is set to house all faculty offices from both the information science and computer science departments.

Madeleine Corneli ’15, an information sciences major, said she feels proud when she gazes upon the partially-constructed building, which she described as already “very impressive.”

“Gates [Hall] adds a lot of focus and relevance to the information science major because having a new building legitimizes the program. I’m obviously looking forward to having the building and facilities it will provide,” Corneli said. “It is a bit of a downer that we’ll only have the building for my last year or so.”

Prof. Joe Halpern, chair of the computer science department, said that although Gates Hall will be a “nice, new building,” he is more excited to oversee  increased collaboration between the computer science and information science departments that will come with the building’s opening.

“The most important thing is the interaction with information science,” Halpern said. “I’m hoping to see a lot of collaboration. There’s already a lot of interaction between the two departments, but I think that being in the same physical location will facilitate interactions.”

Prof. David Bindel, computer science, said he sees the housing of the two departments together as a natural extension of the close relationship between the related disciplines.

“It makes a lot of sense for the [information science] and [computer science] departments to finally be in the same building,” Bindel said. “We’re two units that are in the same college, and there’s a lot of overlap between the people and research.”

Students, meanwhile, are excited about what they see as the building’s convenient location. The information science department will be moving to Gates from its current location on 301 College Ave., and the computer science department will move from Upson Hall.

“It will be very nice to not have to trek to Collegetown for classes and work. It’s easy to avoid going to office hours and talk to professors when you have the excuse, ‘It’s such a long walk,’” Corneli said.

Clara Thomas ’15 echoed Corneli’s sentiment, saying many of her classes are located in places all over campus and that she is “just happy not to have to walk to Ives for [computer science] classes anymore.”

“Info. [science] is bursting at the seams,” said Halpern. “They’re desperate to move.”

In addition to providing additional space for labs and collaborative workspaces, the building will provide a “focal point” that will help students “identify more” with the computer and information science majors, Halpern said.

Corneli agreed, saying that she thinks the building will “encourage a community” in the information science major by fostering a “homey feel.”

Michael Rosenfeld ’15, a computer science major, added that the building will both bring “great opportunities” and be a beautiful addition to the campus landscape.

“I’m excited,” he said. “If it’s anything like the pictures, I’m excited to walk into the future.”

Students also said they anticipate that the building will increase the departments’ presence on campus.

“The fact that this all happened at the same time as the tech campus really brings attention to computing and technology at Cornell,” Tarn Susumpow ’15 said.

Original Author: Sarah Meyers