Feb. 18, 2010

Milstein Hall on track; will be a model of sustainable design

Paul Milstein Hall is on schedule for completion in the summer of 2011, with structural steel expected to rise from the site by spring and the exterior structure and roof to be completed this summer.

The $52 million facilities expansion for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) will employ more than 200 trade workers from central New York over two years of construction.

"We have fewer workers than in the fall, but the workers continue to make lots of progress, doing the things that were planned to be done at this point in time," including the building foundations, said John McKeown, project director for AAP.

"So much of what they've been doing is getting the ground plane ready. By April, steel will be going up," McKeown said. "Every project has its bumps, and moments when questions need to be answered, but there have been no significant problems at all. The architects are here every two weeks, and available to be consulted at any moment."

The architects are Rem Koolhaas and partners in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, based in Rotterdam and New York City; supported by Kendall Heaton Associates of Houston. Koolhaas will visit campus April 13 for a public lecture on the project.

Mike Wilkinson, construction manager for Cornell's Department of Planning, Development and Construction, said the structural steel work is scheduled to start in mid-April and will be completed by mid-July.

McKeown said the project is incorporated into "the academic mission of the college," through tours, faculty and student engagement, and video documentation of the construction process. "We recently had a city building commissioner talk [to students] about the various building codes involved, so that was very rewarding," he said.

The building will also be a model of sustainable design and practices.

Planned sustainable features of Milstein Hall include Lake Source Cooling and chilled beams in the construction; the use of recycled steel and materials from regional firms; a 24,000-square-foot green roof with sedum from an Enfield nursery, designed to integrate visually with the surrounding landscape; skylights and glass walls covering 57 percent of the vertical exterior surface area to maximize natural lighting in classrooms and studios. The features will contribute to a 31 percent reduction in energy costs.

In 2008 the university mandated a 30 percent reduction in energy costs and silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in all new construction projects costing more than $5 million.

"We're shooting for a silver and crossing our fingers that it will get as good a LEED rating as possible," McKeown said. "We have a consultant on board to guide us through the administrative [aspects of obtaining the] rating, and we're looking at criteria to see what else can be done to make [the building] more sustainable."

The project team also is "planning major work all this summer" in Rand Hall, such as installing an elevator and other modifications, he said. "In Sibley, there have been some minor tasks … accomplished to make sure that air quality is not impacted as the Milstein building goes up. We have some things in place already, mostly related to ventilation issues."

The construction is managed by Welliver-Mcguire Inc. of Montour Falls and has employed 17 regional subcontractors.

"We have a good partnership with the construction managers," McKeown said. "It's so rewarding to see the project moving along so quickly."

Additional reporting by Sherrie Negrea, AAP.