AAP upgrades facilities, plans to move Fine Arts Library

September 15, 2010

The steel and concrete form of Milstein Hall now under construction is just one component of substantial facilities improvements under way for AAP.

The college has reorganized the Fine Arts Library in Sibley Dome, in preparation for moving its collections to a newly designed facility in Rand Hall within three years. Other improvements include the installation of new elevators and handicapped-accessible washrooms in Sibley and Rand halls; and upgrades to several offices, architecture studios, and the shop and digital fabrication facilities in Rand.

A dozen architecture faculty offices have moved from Rand Hall to new quarters in Sibley Dome and East Sibley, within the Fine Arts Library facing the Arts Quad.

To accommodate the new offices, library collections were consolidated under the dome and on the second floor, vacating the third floor and moving 78,000 volumes temporarily to the Library Annex. (Annexed Fine Arts Library holdings remain available for recall with a 24-hour turnaround on requests.)

Cornell University Librarian Anne Kenney said in an email to staff that the lack of air conditioning and other environmental controls in Sibley prompted a decision to move the library to better preserve its collections, as recommended by consultants in a 2007 report.

The office moves and library reorganization are being carried out in conjunction with the Milstein Hall project. The college also plans to convert the second floor of East Sibley, now library space, into architecture studios.

When completed in summer 2011, Milstein Hall, designed by Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, will connect to the second floors of East Sibley and Rand. The Milstein project has necessitated and made feasible much of the work in the other two buildings.

"The beauty of what's beginning to happen, and will be realized in a year's time, is creating both horizontal and vertical flow, and connecting the three departments physically, in a really profound and wonderful way," said Assistant Dean Peter Turner.

Where the faculty offices were at the end of the last semester, the first floor of Rand now features an open floor plan, as studio space for second-year architecture students who had been using a leased building downtown on Esty Street for the past three years.

Other improvements completed in Rand Hall this spring and summer include asbestos removal; the installation of new electrical service, plumbing and an HVAC system; as well as a mechanical room for utilities serving Milstein Hall. The shop on the first floor of Rand has been remodeled and expanded, and a dedicated area for digital fabrication created, with a clean room for computers, 3D printers, and laser cutters.

The Foundry and Kiln buildings, which house sculpture studios, recently reopened. The structures were closed in late May for safety reasons due to gorge erosion. Erik Eshelman of Facilities Engineering reported that a slope stabilization system was successfully installed and completed in mid-August, consisting of steel pipe piles drilled into the gorge slope and underground soil-crete columns.

Sibley Dome will also receive new roofing, as a separate maintenance project.

The college's other dome, an architectural feature on the first floor of Milstein, is being readied for a finish-concrete pour on September 20. One side of its exterior will have seating for a 273-seat auditorium and lecture hall, while its opposite side will be rimmed by an exterior walkway. The dome's interior will be critique and informal space for AAP students.

By Daniel Aloi, Cornell Chronicle

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