Milstein Hall

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Project Details

Completed 2011
$37.6 million
47,000 sf

OMA with Kendall/Heaton Associates


Milstein Hall is a modern, 2-story building for the university’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning. Located on the northeast corner of the Arts Quad and connected to Sibley and Rand Halls on the second floor, it unites the Architecture, Art and Planning campus. Flexible studio space on the second floor is immersed with natural light from the surrounding floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights while a presentation area, gallery space, and a 250-seat auditorium are located at the basement level.

Challenging aspects of the design include an interior dome and bridge and the cantilever of the building. At the basement level, the reinforced concrete dome rises from the concrete foundation walls, enclosing critique spaces. The outer surface of the dome’s western slope supports auditorium seating with rows of wall mounted seats that have fold-down backs and fold-away writing surfaces. A reinforced concrete bridge with reinforced concrete truss rails extends across the dome’s interior. The stair leading down to the basement level from this bridge acts as an angled column support. The dome forms an eyebrow window at street level on University Avenue that allows views back inside it.

The second floor and roof of the building cantilevers 50 feet over University Avenue. The cantilever consists of a series of five hybrid trusses that incorporate features of conventional and vierendeel trusses. The exposed vertical and diagonal members of the trusses are located to minimize impact on the interior second floor space. The building is supported on concrete shafts drilled to rock.

Milstein Hall is designed using sustainable practices, including recycled content in steel and concrete. Tight coordination between structure and building systems minimizes its volume, which resulted in the use of less building material overall. Additional sustainable features include skylights for natural lighting, radiant floor heat, and a green roof above the second-floor studio spaces. The building is LEED Gold certified.

Categories: Sustainable Engineering, Higher Education