A “completely neglected” and “absolutely horrible” place just a year ago, the renovated terrace of Willard Straight Hall held its grand re-opening on Wednesday, hoping to revitalize the space as a place for interaction between Cornell students.
The Straight Edge began the rooftop project a year ago to create a “student-run design intervention organization that delivers interdisciplinary redesign proposals for underutilized spaces on campus,” according to creative director Daniel Correa ’19.
“The whole area was completely neglected a year ago and looked absolutely horrible,” Correa told The Sun.
Despite the weather, which shifted the event indoors, the opening was well attended.
“Our goal was to redefine Willard Straight Hall as a true student engagement facility,” added Bailey Herbstreit ’19, vice president and user experience lead of The Straight Edge.
The team previously hosted a “pop-up” event in May as a preview, and Wednesday’s grand opening featured a ribbon tying ceremony, symbolizing the future relationship between the rooftop space and the eatery space.
The redesign of the rooftop focused on maximizing collaboration and improving the user experience of the space. The Straight Edge’s research process involved conducting interviews and collecting systemic data.
With the help of infrared red cameras that showed heat signature, the team identified areas of high concentration and collaboration in the space and also assessed the migration patterns of the furnitures each day.
“One of the most important findings we discovered was that people tend to be in groups,” Correa told The Sun. “They like to be in clumps even when they don’t know each other.”
To facilitate this interaction and collaboration between the users of the space, The Straight Edge replaced the metal round tables with lightweight squared tables because the new tables can be moved and linked together easily, according to Correa.
The end product of this research is “a space that evolves.” The new Straight Edge Rooftop included movable banquet seatings for group collaboration, social nooks for more intimate interactions, a rock garden and a row of high top bar tables.
The team enjoyed seeing students’ utilizing this renovated space. “We’ve been seeing a lot of organizations’ hosting events here,” Herbstreit said. “Once I saw a dance group practicing at night.”
“We want to emphasize that this space is the students,” she added. “When somebody want to come out here and transform the space, they have the complete capacity to do that.”
However, students won’t be able to use the space for much longer — even though the furniture can take strong winds and withstand the cold, it will be put away in the winter. However, The Straight Edge told The Sun that one of its future projects is to keep the rooftop open year round.
“We want to make this a four-season community space,” Correa said. “Much like an urban rooftop in New York City, Paris or London.