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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

OMA's Milstein Hall in Trouble...

I'm not sure how many Cornell architects/alumni actually read this blog, but I know a number of our readers are architects, so I'm reaching out for your support and assistance - a friend from architecture school sent me a link to Archinect's post on how the fate of Milstein Hall, Cornell's new architecture building, hangs in the balance.

The design, by OMA, is ready to begin construction, having received final approvals from the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission and at the Ithaca City Planning Board. However, some local community folk and Cornell non-architecture faculty are looking to stop construction on Milstein, citing "extravagant expense", a "provocative and setting-discordant design" and the fact that it is currently designed to LEED Certified standards, rather than LEED Gold standards. The opponents of the new building would like for it to be "designed in a much greener, more attractive and more economical way" suggesting that an alternative to the current design is to "renovate the existing classic buildings...done so impressively in White, Sage and Lincoln Halls" (to see the "impressive" architecture examples they are referring to, please click here). A Faculty Senate meeting to debate whether or not the building can move forward as designed is happening today.

Besides the fact that it would be a huge embarrassment to the program if the design were delayed yet again (OMA is architect #3, after Steven Holl and Barkow Leibinger were each fired), what's really at stake here is the accreditation of Cornell's architecture school. Paul Petrunia sums it up:
"...I should point out what any delay at this point would mean. THe NAAB has warned us for over a decade, and have explicitly stated that the last accreditation we got is the FINAL one they will grant without compliant facilities. They have just denied us an accreditation review for our new M.Arch 1 program this spring because of delays to the final approval process. When they return next year, they plan to review both the M1 and B.Arch programs -- if we don't have a building in process at that point, the B.Arch will LOSE its accreditation, and the M1 will be denied the same. As you can imagine, losing accreditation will be catastrophic.
To help, please do on of the following as soon as possible:

1. Send a letter to the editor of local media outlets.
- Cornell Daily Sun: News-editor@cornellsun.com
- Cornell Chronicle: SSL4@cornell.edu
- Ithaca Journal: atutino@ithaca.gannett.com
- Ithaca Times: editor@ithacatimes.com
- News10 Now: news@news10now.com
- WHCU: gdunn@cyradiogroup.com
- WVBR: wvbrnews@yahoo.com

2. Post your online comments to articles already written. Go to the article and add your comments where indicated at the end of the page.
- The original Op-Ed by Cornell Professors urging a stop to construction on Milstein Hall
- Dean Kent Kleinman's (Dean of the School of Art, Architecture and Planning) Op-Ed in support of Milstein Hall
- An Op-Ed written in support of Milstein Hall by the architecture professors at Cornell.

Thank you for your help!


  1. thanks for the heads up, mike!

  2. http://cornellsun.com/section/opinion/content/2009/02/16/fighting-wrong-battle


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