Cornell plans new $100 million IT building on Hoy Field

ITHACA, NY—It’s been in the works for a few years and the plans are finally making their big debut. In a statement Wednesday morning, Cornell’s unveiled to the public its brand new computer and information science (CIS) university building.

The new building, unnamed but intended for use by the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, would be built on what is currently the site of Hoy Field. A new baseball diamond is under construction in the town of Ithaca, near East Hill Plaza.

The university has allocated $100 million for the project in accordance with its fiscal year 2021-22 budget. He specifies in the report that the amount is entirely covered by private donations. In 2020, Bowers, a 1959 Cornell graduate, donated $100 million to the school that now bears her name. Bowers was an early executive at software giant Intel and served as one of Apple’s first vice presidents in the 1980s.

Readers may be curious as to why another building is needed, as Bill and Melinda Gates Hall, the current CIS building, is not that old – the building was completed in 2014. The simple answer is that the program has grew by leaps and bounds. According to the university, the program has increased enrollment six-fold over the past decade and recently passed the milestone of 2,000 major students.

The new four-story L-shaped building will be located south of Gates Hall, and the two buildings will be connected by a structural bridge. Cornell plans to create an open, landscaped green space around the building that will provide a place for gatherings and events, creating a mini-quad for the Bowers CIS School. Rhodes Hall, home to parts of the Bowers CIS program, as well as the engineering school’s Upson and Duffield halls, will be visible from the building and its landscaped areas.

The ground floor of the new building will contain multiple entrances and relocate Gimme! Gates Cafe at the New Building. The ground floor will also accommodate a large common space for gatherings, large classrooms and laboratories. The upper floors will house research and administrative offices, more research labs, collaboration spaces and meeting rooms.

Plans are yet to be reviewed by the City of Ithaca, but the project falls under U-1 academic zoning, giving Cornell great flexibility in designing new academic additions to its campus. Being central to the campus and away from neighboring landowners helps limit the debates about aesthetic and historical resources that sometimes arise during site plan review.

With a relatively smooth review process in mind, Cornell hopes to secure approvals for the new building in time to begin construction in early 2023, with construction taking place over a two-year period.

Cornell hired Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Architects to design the new building. Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm Olin Studio will handle the landscaping and outdoor public spaces.

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