Feb. 10, 2011

CALS construction projects prompt relocation of 822 people

This week, construction began on Stocking Hall, home of Cornell's Department of Food Science.

The four-year, multiphase project calls for the demolition and reconstruction of the middle "runway" portion of Stocking Hall and the adjacent Dairy Bar and Plant along Tower Road. A new four-story, state-of-the-art building will replace the runway; the Stocking Hall "tower" on Wing Drive will be completely refurbished.

While the Food Science Lab at Tower and Judd Falls roads will continue to operate as a food processing research facility, other labs and program offices -- and 187 Stocking Hall faculty, staff and students -- will be displaced during the construction, a task made more difficult by the contemporaneous renovations of Fernow, Rice and Warren halls.

The occupants of Fernow and Rice halls have already begun to relocate, while work on Warren Hall is slated to begin this summer with planned movement of the hall's residents in late spring.

The temporary relocation of many staff from the College of Human Ecology into available space in Mann Library during the construction of the new Human Ecology Building behind Martha Van Rensselaer has further increased competition for space on the Ag Quad. Additionally, 10,000 square feet of space was lost when one of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' (CALS) surge buildings was condemned two years ago.

Ezra Delaney, CALS assistant dean for capital projects and facilities services, has spent the past two years working out the logistics involved in the complex game of musical chairs, trying to be equitable with space while also keeping departments together and limiting the number of moves departments and programs have to make.

He still needs to find almost 9,000 square feet of space.

Numerous departments have cooperated in identifying and providing space to accommodate those displaced by the construction, he said. The Department of Animal Science, for example, gave up 7,000 square feet of its space to Food Science faculty and staff.

Horticulture, Mann Library and Plant Biology have already compressed their space, while the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development, parts of Natural Resources and parts of Plant Pathology will be moving to new surge spaces. Other programs are currently being consulted about space needs and challenges. In total, the renovations will affect 822 people.

"We really appreciate the help these programs and departments have given as we devise a solution to these critical space-need challenges," Delaney said.

The State University of New York Construction Fund is providing the projects' funding, which has been preserved despite recent state budget cuts.

"The state, in its commitment to economic development and higher education, has continued to make available capital funds to improve the infrastructure at state universities and colleges. Therefore, the governor's executive budget provides for a full allocation to fund the fourth year of the capital plan," said Associate Dean for Finance and Administration Marge Ferguson.

Meanwhile, parts of Stocking Hall will live on. The large cooler outside Room 178 now belongs to the Candor Food Bank, and lab benches that were located in the runway were relocated to an area school district.

Weekly construction updates are available at a renovation blog at http://foodscience.cornell.edu/cals/foodsci/about/facilities/archived-renovation-blogs.cfm.

Stacey Shackford is a staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.