Cornell’s College of AAP is currently confined to linear, compartmentalized corridor buildings that limit the potential for connection or collegiality within and among different departments and programs. The departments of AAP are essentially isolated in four separate buildings. The Art Department is housed in Tjaden Hall and the Foundry, the Planning Department occupies Sibley West, while the Architecture Department lies primarily in Sibley East and in Rand Hall. The Fine Arts Library, together with the Dean’s office and the Hartell Gallery, is in the central domed portion of Sibley Hall, effectively keeping the east and west wings of Sibley apart. The addition of Milstein Hall will help to bridge these territorial boundaries, create a new cultural heart of the college, and promote innovative ways of teaching.
The proposed design consists of an elevated second floor that provides much-needed flexible contiguous studio space for the AAP and internal connections to Sibley and Rand halls. The structure is artfully cantilevered on the north side and southeast corner. The space underneath it is left open to form a pedestrian plaza that provides outdoor gathering and exhibition space protected from the elements, a new entrance at the southeast corner, and a sheltered pedestrian connection to the sculpture studios located in the Foundry. A concrete dome in the center provides the incline for the auditorium seating, supports a generous, inviting stair to the second floor studio space, and creates a domed ceiling to the crit space below. Existing site circulation patterns at ground level are maintained and enhanced by this openness.
In the sub-basement underneath the plaza is an auditorium, exhibition space and crit area. The crit area, located under the dome, is an area where student projects are pinned up on walls and critiqued by professors and invited professionals in a group audience, so that everyone can learn from the “crit.”
Milstein Hall serves the daily activities of the architecture, art and planning studio environment, a blend of physical and digital creative work.
The following are several design features incorporated into the design of Milstein Hall:
* Upper Plate (Second Floor)
* College Forum
* Sunken Garden
* Work Area and Pod Seating
* Garage Interface
* Exterior Materials and Finishes
* Green Roof
Upper Plate (Second Floor):
The upper plate provides a large flexible space for studios that are conducive to improvisational interaction among the AAP programs. A variety of zones within the upper plate supports the college’s physical and programmatic vision for innovative and collaborative learning:
* AAP Forum
* Flexible studio modules
* Pin up/Crit
* Technology bar
The college forum is a signature gallery for collaboration and exhibition that showcases student and faculty work. It is given a distinct location on the south end of the upper level of Milstein Hall. The configuration of the AAP Forum reinforces the concept of the building as a connector. The library housed on the second floor of Sibley Hall has a direct connection to the Forum, expanding on the use of this space by serving the library with a much needed meeting and lecture room. By extending two trusses, the Forum cantilevers south, marking and creating a covered entry from the pedestrian approach to the Arts Quad. Approaching Milstein Hall from the Thurston Avenue Bridge intersection, the Forum counter-balances the cantilever over University Avenue.
In addition to the cantilevered Forum on the south side of the building, the second floor of Milstein Hall also cantilevers over University Avenue. Five exposed structural steel trusses in the second floor of Milstein Hall support the cantilever. To balance the need of open flexible space and the structural demands of a cantilever, an innovative structural design was engineered. The solution was derived by optimizing the diagonal truss members to correspond to the stress diagram over the length of the truss. The result created a hybridtruss where steel members are more diagonal at the highest stress forces (over the cantilever) and gradually become vertical as the stress forces diminish near the center of the floor plan. In its own right, the hybrid truss becomes a laboratory for teaching architects structural design concepts.
The dome below the upper floor of Milstein Hall is a simple uplifting of the exterior plaza surface that connects the upper and lower floors. The exterior of the dome becomes an inhabited surface for public activities. Auditorium seating is located on the west side of the dome, a generous and inviting stair from the lobby to the upper floor on the east side, and a group of fixed seating pods for outdoor meetings on the south side. The double-height space in the lower level, created under the dome, is the center of Milstein Hall, a multi-use space for students and faculty. A glass facade on the north side provides a glimpse into the world of AAP from the sidewalk along University Avenue.
The open configuration auditorium is located on the west side of the dome. The presentation area of the auditorium is sunken into the ground at the basement level. The remainder of theauditorium is surrounded on three sides by glass walls that maintain views to the surrounding buildings. It seats 275 and is ADA-accessible.
The auditorium is configured with several roll down screens and projectors, and a flexible sound and voice enhancement system to accommodate the advanced multimedia presentations that are becoming the norm at the college. An interior balcony located on the south side provides space for additional seating and adds to the dynamic nature of the auditorium. Full-height curtains can be drawn across the glass wall during lectures and presentations to darken the room and provide acoustical dampening. When the curtains are open a sliding panel opens up to views of the sunken garden at the west end behind the podium. Fixed seating is located on the incline of the dome while the flat area to the west of the dome has flexible seating. This flat area can also be isolated with large curtains and utilized as a classroom, crit room, exhibition space, or board room.
The sunken garden is located on the west side of the auditorium and on the north side of the exhibition space on the lower level. It can be viewed internally from these spaces, and also by pedestrians on the plaza above and from the sidewalk along the south side of University Avenue. It is planted with sumac trees and local grasses, filtering light into the exhibition space and auditorium. An ivy-covered stair tower rises from the garden and connects the underground parking level with the street and Milstein Hall.
An elevator is typically an enclosed, functional box that becomes an invisible element within a building. The Milstein Hall elevator is a three-sided glass room within a glass-enclosed shaft. It will be visible and dynamic. The six foot by 12 foot cab is fitted with a chair and lamp to create a room-like condition, yet it is big enough to transport large models, drawings and equipment between the studios and the lower level dome and exhibition space.
Work Area and Pod Seating:
Two programmed outdoor spaces between Milstein and Sibley Hall expand on the new building’s interior facilities. A workspace fitted with tables attached to an embedded track creates a unique opportunity for the creative work of the college to spill outdoors. The track and connected worktables extend from the covered area to the open air plaza to the west; maximum flexibility and function capitalize on the building’s unconventional design.
Seating pods situated on the south of the concrete dome add a public urban quality to the covered space. The translucent seating pods invite informal gathering during times when the space is not used for outdoor teaching. The pods are lit from within, adding a sense of warmth, surprise and ambiance to the covered space.
The plaza on the north side of the Sibley dome, between Milstein Hall and the Central Avenue Parking Garage (CAPG), acts as a knuckle coordinating pedestrian circulation and vehicular circulation between Milstein Hall and the CAPG. At grade, pedestrian paths connect the Milstein Hall with the surrounding sidewalk network. They are separated from the driveway entrance to the CAPG and drop-off area. Below grade, this knuckle provides internal connections between the CAPG and Milstein Hall, the CAPG and Sibley Hall, and University Avenue and the Green Dragon Cafe. The sunken garden and exhibition space are located at the interface and enhance these entrances. Garage patrons glimpse the exhibition space through a round window as they enter Milstein from the garage.
Exterior Materials and Finishes:
Milstein Hall’s materials and finishes are expressive of its construction. They are robust and economical. The materials in the upper level are predominantly exposed steel and floor-to-ceiling glass facades. The lower level is constructed of exposed concrete. The upper and lower levels create two different material environments expressive of Milstein Hall’s structure and form.
White and grey striated marble frame the top and bottom of the second floor glass facade. The marble sets Milstein Hall apart from the stone and yellow brick of Sibley Hall, and the brown brick of Rand Hall.
Four-foot square, pressed stainless steel panels line the underside of the entire second level. The panels located over University Avenue are sound absorbing to dampen street noise as heard from the pedestrian plaza and surrounding buildings.
Physically, Milstein Hall is a connector between a unique site and existing conditions. In form and materiality, it is a building of its own time.
The roof of Milstein Hall is considered another façade of the building, reinforcing the concept of the building as a connector. The entire roof, with the exception of the skylights, is vegetated in a graphic pattern of two types of sedum plantings. The sedum “dots” gradually increase in diameter as they approach the gorge, creating a landscape that is orderly and structured nearest the Arts Quad, and a denser, less structured field as it reaches the gorge.
Given the visibility of the roof from the third floor of Sibley Hall, and from Rand Hall and Baker Lab to the east, a vegetated roof creates a varied, living landscape far more appealing than a ballast roof, and also absorbs water rather than channeling it to the existing stormwater system.
Three sizes of skylights are arranged in a radial pattern on the roof with the larger ones at the center and smaller ones toward the perimeter of the building. This creates consistent natural light levels across the entire second floor studio space.