Text description provided by the architects. The highly anticipated Milstein Hall at Cornell University has officially opened its studios to students. It is the first new building in over 100 years for the renowned College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP). Designed by OMA, led by partner Shohei Shigematsu who directs the NY office, and and Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas, the design for the 47,000-square-foot building physically unites the AAP’s long-separated facilities to form a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration.
"Milstein Hall operates on many levels," says AAP dean Kent Kleinman. "It redefines the entry for the northern edge of the campus; it provides a permeable boundary between academic space and the public; it offers extraordinary spatial relationships between internal programmatic elements; and it offers a landscape of studios that fosters a level of interaction between our undergraduate and graduate architecture students that we have never enjoyed before."
Cornell overcame the danger of having both their accreditation and new architecture school eradicated from the campus, but as we reported in May of last year there has been smooth sailing in terms of the physical construction of OMA’S Milstein Hall ever since.
More about Milstein Hall following the break.
Milstein Hall’s large horizontal plate connects the second levels of the AAP’s existing Sibley Hall and Rand Hall to provide 25,000 square feet of studio space with panoramic views of the surrounding environment. Enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass and a green roof with 41 skylights, this “upper plate” cantilevers almost 50 feet over University Avenue to establish a relationship with the Foundry, a third existing AAP facility. The wide-open expanse of the plate — structurally supported by a hybrid truss system — stimulates interaction and allows flexible use over time.
Shohei Shigematsu comments: "Our ambition for the upper plate was for it to serve as a pedagogical platform for the architecture, art and planning departments – an open condition that could trigger interaction and discussion. The students and faculty are already beginning to use the space to generate unexpected results that go beyond what we had planned.”
Beneath the hovering studio plate, the ground level accommodates major program elements including a 253-seat auditorium, and a dome that encloses a 5,000 square foot circular critique space. The dome serves multiple functions: it supports the raked auditorium seating, it becomes the stairs leading up to the studio plate above, and it is the artificial ground for an array of exterior seating pods fostering public activities.