Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Cornell University, Alumni & Admission Center

Ithaca, New York

1988

This double-headed complex situated on opposite sides of Falls Creek at the northern end of the original campus includes a four-story reception building on the northern face of the gorge and a four-story administrative wing situated on the opposite bank.

The first structure governs the main public approach to the campus from the north and east and accommodates undergraduate admissions offices, and seminar rooms and a cafeteria, grouped about a nine-square, four-story high Great Hall that looks south over the falls towards the administrative wing and a pre-existing, stone-faced, hydraulics laboratory let into the gorge. Conceived as a propyleaum, the reception building is topographically related to particular features around it: to the greensward in front of Balch Hall, to Beebe Lake to which it is connected by a service building and a boat house and, lastly, the gorge itself by virtue of a pedestrian passerelle linking the two buildings and a stepped promenade leading down to a belvedere facing the falls. This inflected play with outbuildings is completed by an eight-story campanile that at the northwest corner of the reception building that ties the whole complex back to Triphammer Bridge, which is one of the main vehicular approaches to the campus.

The new administrative building is treated as a linear foil to the cubic mass of the reception building. It houses the central administration, alumni, development and university council offices. For obvious compositional reasons both new buildings are ordered on an identical, twenty-five-foot structural module.

Credits