Photo courtesy of the Ithaca Planning and Development Board

An arial view of the proposed changes to the Ag Quad, which have been in progress this summer.

July 30, 2016

Ag Quad Renovations Aim to ‘Revitalize’ Area With New Infrastructure

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A temporary fire vehicle access path and new sanitary piping have been installed in the eastern section of the Ag Quad, marking the beginning of a $7.8 million renovation that will be completed by the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the Ag Quad project team.

“The purpose of this project is to replace aging utility infrastructure, some of which is over 100 years old, and to revitalize the landscape within the Ag Quad in the aftermath of several recent construction projects,” the team said in a statement.

This spring and summer, a construction team worked to improve the infrastructure of the quad’s eastern end — which includes Mann Library, Warren Hall and the Plant Science Building. The team installed several features, including water service to Caldwell Hall and sanitary piping near Plant Sciences, in addition to demolishing the quad’s walking path.

“The project is working to ensure that pedestrian paths to all the buildings are clear and alternative routes clearly indicated prior to the arrival of the students back for the fall semester,” the team reported.

The statement added that renovations will lead to “improved safety in the quad,” due to the addition of 20 new light poles and three blue light phones, as well an emergency vehicle access path. These features will be completed on the quad’s eastern end this year, and in its west and south areas next year.

New plazas constructed outside Mann Library and Roberts Hall — complete with stone benches and mobile furniture — will facilitate students socializing, according to the project team.

Prof. Jack Elliott, design and environmental analysis, expressed disappointment that the quad’s renovation required architects to cut down four historic cherry trees west of the Plant Science building.

“For most of the trees, I was told that it would have been impossible to use a tree spade to transplant them,” Elliott said. “However, I would like to point out that there are other methods for transplanting small trees such as these but it would have taken more time and effort.”

The trees were removed due to infrastructure changes in their location, and the project team “went through great pains and a rigorous review process” to preserve as many of the quad’s other trees as possible, according to project manager Davies Orinda.

“The engineers and landscape architects tweaked the design to minimize the impact on existing trees,” Orinda said.

Orinda added that the cherry trees will be replaced by six crimson spire oaks, and that the team will install 54 new trees in total to the quad.

“The new trees [will add] significantly to the species diversity within the project area, and therefore adding to the campus biodiversity,” he said.

The Farmers’ Market at Cornell will alter its position in the Ag Quad during the latter parts of renovation, according to market managers Hanna Reichel ’17 and Jason Chari ’17. However, the students said they expect the market will benefit from a “more centralized location” once the renovations are completed.

“This will allow us — our loyal vendors and visitors — to take full advantage of new infrastructure such as expanded seating, improved walkways and newly landscaped areas,”  Reichel and Chari said.