Cornell University's New Fine Arts Library Opens in Ithaca

Cornell's new Mui Ho Fine Arts Library has opened in Ithaca, New York for the fall 2019 semester. The opening follows an 18-month renovation of the historic Rand Hall. Housing a circulating collections of fine art and design materials, the library aims to create space for the physical artifact as a durable and irreplaceable academic and creative resource in the visual arts and design disciplines.

Cornell University's New Fine Arts Library Opens in Ithaca - More Images

© Chris Cooper, courtesy of STV

The new library is four levels of massed stacks with shelves of books suspended as a centerpiece. The collection is surrounded by new spaces for research, computing, and instruction as well as a reading and study space. As J. Meejin Yoon, Dean of Cornell AAP said, “I think what’s extraordinary about this building is that it will house both a library and a fabrication facility. The production of new knowledge, ranging from scholarship to research and fabrication and making, tying those activities together as all forms of new knowledge is exciting.”

© Chris Cooper, courtesy of STV

As Cornell explains, the stacks accommodate approximately 100,000 volumes in a configuration forming an inverted ziggurat of books. The four levels are accessible by elevator, stairs, and grated walkways. Free of walls, the transparency across and between levels provides visitors multiple overlapping views across interior spaces and outward to the natural surroundings. Rand Hall is located at a prominent point of entry to Cornell's campus, marking its northern gateway. The 108-year-old industrial building has been entirely rehabilitated and includes a new rooftop deck outfitted with baseplates for the display of temporary experimental structures created by students and faculty.

© Chris Cooper, courtesy of STV

“This building has an amazing history. Rand Hall is an early example of adaptive reuse for many different programs," says J. Meejin Yoon. "From industrial purposes to engineering and architecture programs and now as a fine arts library above a state-of-the-art fabrication facility. It represents the full spectrum of media and material coming together.” The ground floor of Rand Hall is a new fabrication shop including wood, metal, and digital fabrication shops, a maker space, a research lab, and small-tool repository.

© Chris Cooper, courtesy of STV

“On the first floor an energetic fabrication space filled with machines, and on the second floor a silent and clean space where more than 100,000 volumes of books are hung between earth and the skies,” said Wolfgang Tschapeller (M.Arch. '87), the project’s design architect and AAP alumnus. “Thus, we have two factories in one building. One is the factory for the material, and one is the factory for thought and concepts — both wrapped by Rand Hall to one interacting volume.” Mui Ho '62 (B.Arch. '66), an architect and educator retired from the University of California–Berkeley, committed $6 million to the library in 2013. The New York City–based STV is the architectural firm of record, with a team led by Harris Feinn (B.Arch. '69, M.Arch. '71).

News via Cornell

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Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Cornell University's New Fine Arts Library Opens in Ithaca" 04 Nov 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© Chris Cooper, courtesy of STV


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