A New Center for AAPMilstein Hall's 47,000-square-feet weaves its definitively contemporary architecture through the college's historic buildings, creating a dynamic landscape and a vibrant central meeting place that lends itself to collaboration.
Upper Plate (second floor)The upper plate provides a large space for studios that are conducive to improvisational interaction among the AAP programs. A variety of zones within the upper plate support the college's physical and programmatic vision for innovative and collaborative learning including flexible studio modules, pin up and critique space, study, and lounge.
The stepped auditorium is defined by lifting the slab of the upper plate to create the entry to the main auditorium from the studios. This small auditorium is an informal presentation and meeting space set within the open flexible studios. Panels on the rear of the electrical closet open to reveal a pin-up wall and an LCD display for digital presentations, seminars, or broadcasting of the main auditorium events.
In addition to the cantilevered section on the south side of the building, the second floor of Milstein Hall cantilevers over University Avenue to the north. Five exposed structural steel trusses support the cantilever. To balance the need for open, flexible space and the structural demands of a cantilever, an innovative structural design was engineered. The solution was derived by optimizing the diagonal truss members to correspond to the stress diagram over the length of the truss. The result created a hybrid truss where steel members are read more diagonal at the highest stress forces (over the cantilever) and gradually become vertical as the stress forces diminish near the center of the floor plan. In its own right, the hybrid truss becomes a laboratory for teaching architects structural design concepts.
Lower PlateThe lower plate is a cluster of public programmable areas — auditorium, exhibition, critique spaces — that serve all of AAP in conjunction with the upper plate. Constructed of cast-in-place concrete set into the site, the roof provides a public exterior plaza with a single manipulation that rises to form a bump creating access from the ground to the upper plate, a domed public space, and tiered seating for the auditorium.
The dome below the upper floor of Milstein Hall is a simple uplifting of the exterior plaza surface that connects the upper and lower floors. The exterior of the dome becomes an inhabited surface for public activities. Auditorium seating is located on the west side of the dome, a generous and inviting stair from the lobby to the upper floor on the east side, and a group of fixed seating pods for outdoor meetings on the south side. A glass facade on the north side provides a glimpse into the world of AAP from the sidewalk along University Avenue.
The double-height space in the lower level, created under the dome, is the center of Milstein Hall — a multi-use space for students and faculty. The bridge links the main public entry of Milstein Hall to the auditorium and the lower plate. The bridge spans across the dome space column-free by integrating a structural concrete truss into the guardrails. The bridge also acts as a viewing balcony into the dome critique space.
The open configuration auditorium is located on the west side of the dome. The presentation area of the auditorium is sunken into the ground at the basement level. The remainder of the auditorium is surrounded on three sides by glass walls that maintain views to the surrounding buildings. It seats 253 and is ADA-accessible.
The auditorium is configured with several roll-down screens and projectors, and a flexible sound and voice enhancement system to accommodate the advanced multimedia presentations that are becoming the norm at the college. An interior balcony located on the south side provides space for additional seating and adds to the dynamic nature of the auditorium. Full-height curtains can be drawn across the glass wall during lectures and presentations to darken the room and provide acoustical dampening. When the curtains are open, a sliding panel opens up to views of the sunken garden at the west end behind the podium. Fixed seating is located on the incline of the dome while the flat area to the west of the dome has flexible seating. This flat area can also be isolated with large curtains and used as a classroom, critique room, exhibition space, or boardroom.
The exhibition space is located between the lower plate entry, the future parking garage, and the auditorium — giving it maximum exposure the public and taking advantage of natural light from the sunken garden along is north facade. The floor is lowered 15 inches to increase the ceiling height within the exhibition space.
The sunken garden is located on the west side of the auditorium and on the north side of the exhibition space. It can be viewed internally from these spaces, and also by pedestrians on the plaza above and from the sidewalk along the south side of University Avenue. It is planted with sumac trees and local grasses, filtering light into the exhibition space and auditorium. An ivy-covered stair tower rises from the garden and connects the underground parking level with the street and Milstein Hall.
An elevator is typically an enclosed, functional box that becomes an invisible element within a building. The Milstein Hall elevator is a three-sided glass room within a glass-enclosed shaft — visible and dynamic. The 6-by-12-foot cab big enough to transport large models, drawings and equipment between the studios and the lower level dome and exhibition space.
Two programmed outdoor spaces between Milstein Hall and Sibley Hall expand on the building’s interior facilities. Seating pods situated on the south of the concrete dome add a public urban quality to the covered space. The translucent seating pods invite informal gathering during times when the space is not used for outdoor teaching. The pods are lit from within, adding a sense of warmth, surprise, and ambiance to the covered space.
Milstein Hall integrates Cornell University's Lake Source Cooling (LSC) system into its structure takes advantage of a new design that conserves energy and uses a renewable resource — the cold waters of nearby Cayuga Lake — to keep the building cool on hot days.
The heating of the upper plate open studios is integrated into the concrete floor slab providing a more efficient, cleaner and comfortable heated environment. The radiant heated floor is especially suitable for an open, flexible space.
Exterior and FinishesMilstein Hall’s materials and finishes are expressive of its construction. They are robust and economical. The materials in the upper level are predominantly exposed steel and floor-to-ceiling glass facades. The lower level is constructed of exposed concrete. The upper and lower levels create two different material environments expressive of Milstein Hall’s structure and form.
The outdoor plaza — a gracious external space — with a sculpture area, plentiful seating, and a food service stand designed through a student competition, will be a natural congregation point for the college and university. The plaza will provide a place of pause for students crossing the suspension bridge on the way to class, for AAP students who want to grab a bite to eat, or students who want to see new sculpture exhibitions.
White and gray striated marble frame the top and bottom of the second floor glass facade. The marble sets Milstein Hall apart from the stone and yellow brick of Sibley Hall and the brown brick of Rand Hall.
On the west side of Milstein Hall an ivy-covered, open-air metal clad stair tower contrasts the long horizontal upper plate. The stair tower connects all levels of Milstein Hall and the future parking garage and provides access to the green roof for ease of maintenance.
Four-foot square, pressed stainless steel panels line the underside of the entire second level. The panels located over University Avenue are sound absorbing to dampen street noise as heard from the pedestrian plaza and surrounding buildings.
The roof of Milstein Hall is considered another facade of the building, reinforcing the concept of the building as a connector. The entire roof, with the exception of the skylights, is vegetated in a graphic pattern of two types of sedum plantings. The sedum “dots” gradually increase in diameter as they approach the gorge, creating a landscape that is orderly and structured nearest the Arts Quad, and a denser, less structured field as it reaches the gorge. Given the visibility of the roof from the third floor of Sibley Hall, and from Rand Hall and Baker Lab to the east, a vegetated roof creates a varied, living landscape far more appealing than a ballast roof, and also absorbs water rather than channeling it to the existing storm water system.
Three sizes of skylights are arranged in a radial pattern on the roof with the larger ones at the center and smaller ones toward the perimeter of the building. This creates consistent natural light levels across the entire second floor studio space.