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Cornell University

October 18, 2011

Cornell University’s Milstein Hall – the first new building in over 100 years for the renowned College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) – opened its studios for students in late August with completion coming in October 2011. Led by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu, who directs the New York office, 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."

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.

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.

Associate Professor Mark Cruvellier was appointed to a three-year term as the department chair of architecture effective July 1, 2011.  As noted in AAP dean Kent Kleinman’s announcement, “[Cruvellier] has a long administrative track record, but even more importantly, he has the skills and disposition to support a strong team.” Cruvellier takes over as chair from Dagmar Richter who begins as a department chair at the Pratt Institute this January.

Associate Professor Lily Chi was appointed director of graduate studies (Field of Architecture), and Associate Professor Andrea Simitch was named director of the B.Arch. program. A search for the Edgar A. Tafel Professor of Architecture / Director of Professional M.Arch. Program is underway.

AfterTaste: Expanded Practices in Interior Design, coedited by AAP dean Kent Kleinman, will be released in October 2011. The book includes texts, interviews, and portfolios based on the annual AfterTaste symposia hosted by Parsons The New School for Design. The materials document new theories and emerging critical practices that argue that the field of interior design is inadequately served by its historical reliance on taste-making and taste-makers, and attempt to promote new voices and perspectives in both the theory and practice of the discipline.

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