This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”

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It looks like Cornell’s AAP school is releasing the first rendering of the new Fine Arts Library. At a glance, it looks like the form of Rand Hall will be kept the same as it is now, although there’s no real indication at this point what the exterior will look like after the new library is built.

Here’s the released rendering:

The architect is a Cornell alum, Vienna-based Wolfgang Tschapeller M.A. ’87. Tschapeller has made some pretty wild looking staircases before (definitely not for the faint-of-heart), so this avant-garde design seems well within his normal repertoire.

One concern I have is that Rand’s windows are reduced to single panes in the rendering. It may be an intention of the design or it might be because the windows aren’t the focus of the render, but I always thought one of the charms of Rand Hall was the many-paned windows are a characteristic of the early 20th “daylight factory” industrial style that Rand (built 1911) is representative of.

I am surprised that Rand Hall is not a part of the Arts Quad Historic District as designated by the city, but at this point I wish it was.

As previously reported: the Fine Arts Library seems to be more of a renovation than a new construction, moving the FAL from neighboring Sibley Hall and into the top two floors of Rand Hall. The new library is planned for a Fall 2016 opening.

A press release credits a $6 million dollar gift from architect and UC-Berkeley professor Mui Ho ’62 B. Arch ’66. From the July 2013 gift annoucement, it sounds like the exterior of Rand will be preserved while the interior is substantially revamped for the new library.

There was a great pushback from alumni the first time Cornell tried to demolish Rand Hall, when early versions of Milstein called for the ca. 1911 building’s demolition. Rand Hall sits just outside the Arts Quad Historic District, so any exterior changes would not be subject to review by the very stringent Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council (ILPC).


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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.