Extension to the College of Architecture, Art and Planning
Occupying four distinct buildings at the northern periphery of Cornell's Arts Quad, the College for Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) was a fragmented area, dislocated from the energy of university life. The new Milstein Hall - a 14,000m2 complex containing much-needed studio, exhibition and crit space, an auditorium and a new Fine Arts Library - is conceived not as a symbolic, isolated addition to the campus but as a connecting structure: a large elevated horizontal plate that links the second levels of Sibley and Rand Halls and cantilevers over University Avenue, reaching towards the Foundry building. Where a car park once stood between Sibley and Rand, a contiguous, multi-layer system of buildings and plazas unites the disparate elements of the AAP, creating a public space adjacent to the campus's most beautiful feature, just to the north - the Fall Creek Gorge.

The four existing buildings of the AAP - Rand, Sibley, the Foundry and Tjaden Hall - exhibit varying architectural styles but share a single typology: linear, corridor-based buildings that segregate the AAP's disciplines in closed rooms behind a labyrinth of entrances, security codes and dead ends.

Milstein Hall provides a type of space currently absent from the campus: a wide-open expanse that stimulates the interaction of programs, and allows flexibility over time. Within Milstein Hall's upper plate, which has access to Rand and Sibley, areas are defined not by walls but by subtle manipulations of the section that trigger particular uses: a sunken area for the library, raised areas for crit spaces, and open spaces for studios - all suffused with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and a grid of skylights.

The roof of the upper plate, visible from the third floor of Sibley, Rand and Baker Lab, is an open platform with views of the gorge and the surrounding campus, and is gridded with vegetation that becomes denser in the direction of the gorge.

Milstein Hall is intended as a building with hidden depths: the floor of the upper plate is punctured by the bulging ceiling of the lower plate, opening a route to the lower levels. This bump continues to slope downwards on both sides, dissecting the lower plate into three areas with varying heights and depths: the lobby (on the Rand side of the building); the basement, with computer labs and meeting areas (in the middle); and a 282-seat auditorium that gradually rises to a double-height space (on the Sibley side). Like the upper plate, the auditorium has floor-to-ceiling windows, granting views both into the lecture theatre for passersby and out of it for students.

Outside the auditorium, a sunken garden, exhibition space and plaza extends to the central, domed portion of Sibley Hall, reinforcing its importance and creating, for the first time, a coherent entry sequence from the north into AAP. Milstein Hall's sheltering cantilevers, both to the north and the south east, similarly define new areas of public space and encourage new ways to navigate the interlinked AAP.

Cornell / AAP / Milstein Hall website


Status: Commission 2006, ground breaking 2009, completion October 2011


Client: Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP)


Location: Ithaca, New York, USA


Construction Cost: $36.7 Million


Site: Northern edge of campus between the Arts Quad and the Gorge, adjacent to three historic campus buildings - Rand Hall, Sibley Hall and the Foundry


Program: 4,370-square metre addition to the College of Architecture, Art and Planning including Studios, Critique spaces, Auditorium, Gallery, Exterior Workspace and Plaza


Architect of Record:
KHA Architects, LLC

Structural Engineer:
Robert Silman Associates, P.C.

Plus Group Consulting Engineers PLLC

Civil Engineer - Site Utilities:
GIE Niagara Engineering Inc. P.C.

Civil Engineer - Site and Grading:

T.G. Miller P.C.


Acoustical Consultant:



Façade Design & Engineering Consultant:

Front, Inc.


Lighting Consultant:

Tillotson Design Associates, Inc.

Landscape Architect:

Scape Landscape Architecture PLLC


Curtain Design:

Inside Outside, Petra Blaisse


Graphic Design:

2x4, Inc.


Sustainability Consultant:

BVM Engineering



"Milstein Hall not only allows a new architecture studio culture to unfold, it also enables a number of collateral moves that are transformative for teaching and learning in the college."

AAP Dean Kent Kleinman

Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Shohei Shigematsu

Associate in charge:
Ziad Shehab

Jason Long, Michael Smith, Troy Schaum, Charles Berman, Amparo Casani, Noah Shepherd

With Alasdair Graham, Torsten Schroeder, Joshua Beck, Erica Goetz, Margaret Arbanas, Patrick Hobgood, Tsuyoshi Nakamoto, Ritchie Yao, Sandy Yum, Konrad Krupinski, Kengo Skorick, Martin Schliefer, Marcin Ganczarski, Tanner Merkeley, Konstantin August, Klaas Kresse, Mathieu De Paepe, Suzanna Waldron, Daphna Glaubert, Beatriz Minguez de Molina, Jesse Seegers, James Davies, Esa Ruskeepaa, Daniel Gerber, Paul Georgeadis, Julianna Gola, Betty Ng, Michael Jefferson, Christine Noblejas


Chronicle Online, May 2009
Architectural Record
, June 2009
Architect's Newspaper, July 2009
New York Times
, September 2006
Domus, November 2011 
Art in America, November 2011
Wall Street Journal, December 2011
Architectural Record, February 2012


Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)
Gold certification

2011 Educational Building of the Year

2011 Award of Excellence (Lighting)
GE Edison

2012 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award
National Council of Structural Engineers Associations

2012 Higher Education / Research Project Award
Engineering News Record

2012 Lumen Citation for Lighting that Supports the Architecture
Illuminating Engineer Society

2012 Build America Merit Awards
Associated General Contractors of America

2012 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award
(For New Buildings between $30 Million - $100 Million)
Structural Engineers Association of New York

2013 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Architecture
American Institute of Architects

2013 Diamond Award
American Council of Engineering Companies, New York

2013 Architecture +Learning Jury & Popular Choice Award
Architizer A+