Milstein Hall's interior takes shape, on way to August opening

June 10, 2011

Cornell Chronicle — Milstein Hall is on track to open in August, with studio space and other new amenities for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP). The 47,000-square-foot, glass, steel, and concrete building north of the Arts Quad will reconfigure and integrate the activities of the colleges departments and programs.

The second floor of Milstein is nearly finished and offers 25,000 square feet of flexible space for teaching AAP students. With no interior walls, the space will accommodate about 20 studios of varying sizes. The open floor plan also includes a presentation/critique area with LCD screens and other technology, designed for students to show, save, and print their work. The studio space in Milstein will be ready for classes by mid-August, and a transportation hub on University Avenue, a garden, interior gallery, and space for reviews, critiques, and special events on the first floor will also be complete.

The 250-seat auditorium on the first floor will open in October. Milstein Hall not only allows a new architecture studio culture to unfold, it also enables a number of collateral moves that are transformative for teaching and learning in the college, AAP Dean Kent Kleinman said, noting that expanded shops will occupy the entire first floor of Rand Hall; faculty offices formerly in Rand are moving to Sibley; and the Fine Arts Library will move to the top two floors of Rand by 2013.

With the linkages between buildings at the second floor, planners in West Sibley will no longer be separated from architects in East Sibley, he said. These many physical reconfigurations will finally bring our facilities into alignment with our needs and aspirations, and Milstein Hall is the catalyst, Kleinman said. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and architects in the New York office of his Rotterdam-based firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Milstein features such interior details as aluminum-mesh ceiling tiles and lighted study pods nestled in the bump, an interior dome that is the first floors central feature.

The project has employed several New York state firms including construction manager Welliver [formerly Welliver McGuire] of Montour Falls; Cayuga Landscaping; concrete subcontractor Pike Co. of Rochester; and ironworkers from Fast Trek Steel of Coxsackie.

Robert Silman 56s firm, Silman Associates, provided engineering consultation on the steel trusses, cantilever, and interior dome. The college is planning a grand opening celebration in March 2012, and a series of events next spring including symposia and other programming focused on pedagogy in AAP. In addition to linking Rand and Sibley halls at the second floor, "at the ground level the design brings together the disparate activities of University Avenue and of Rand, Sibley, the Foundry, and Milstein itself into direct interaction with each other in an open, public space, emphasizing these buildings' working together as a unit," said associate professor of architecture Mark Cruvellier. "Milstein Hall will expose architecture education [to the campus] like never before," he said. "The activity of design studios will be in full public view from all quarters, public critiques, and reviews of student work will be visible from the street and from a poured concrete bridge and major public lectures and events in the auditorium will be put on public display by its surrounding glass walls."

Among the buildings sustainable features: "Chilled beams," an overhead piping system using lake-source cooling, running throughout Milstein Hall; 41 skylights for natural lighting; radiant floor heat; and a green roof planted with sedums. None of these buildings [Rand, Sibley, and the Foundry] were designed for architecture, art, and planning education this building [Milstein] is from scratch, said project manager John McKeown during a recent tour of Milsteins interior. The building was designed to meet energy-efficiency standards for LEED silver certification, pending a final review by the Green Building Council once the building opens, McKeown said.

By Daniel Aloi

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