KSS Architects recently completed two projects that have strengthened the images of two renowned colleges at Cornell University: the School of Hotel Administration, where KSS converted a former theater fly tower into a multidisciplinary research and entrepreneurship center, and Cornell Law School, where KSS integrated advanced technology into a 1930s Collegiate Gothic moot courtroom.
Completed in spring 2010, the renovated and expanded Statler Hall Tower houses the School of Hotel Administration’s new Center for Hospitality Research, the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship and the Center for Real Estate Finance. The Tower was KSS Architects’ second major project at SHA. The award-winning Beck Center, which opened in 2004, created a prominent and engaging educational and event space in Statler Hall.
The 14,000 sf Tower renovation, considered by the university to represent the true completion of the Beck Center, won a Design Merit Award from the New Jersey chapter of The American Institute of Architects.
To create usable space in Statler Tower, whose existing 48-feet vertical clear space formerly stored theater sets, KSS raised the height of the structure and created five floor plates. Given the tower’s tight footprint, KSS also cantilevered several floors to gain more usable space and accommodate SHA’s ambitious program.
The solid stone exterior wall of the Tower was previously the first thing campus visitors saw upon entering Cornell University from the south. Continuing the architectural language of the adjacent Beck Center, KSS increased SHA’s connection to the entire campus through a dramatic three-story glass curtain wall that opened the facade and merged indoor and outdoor activities. At the top of the tower, KSS designed a multipurpose gathering space completed with an outdoor balcony that provides one of the best views of Cornell’s picturesque campus. Like the adjoining Beck Center, the Statler Tower has become an engaging and coveted center for research, education and events.
KSS Architects (kssarchitects.com) also recently completed the renovation of Cornell Law School’s MacDonald Moot Court Room, which won an Award of Excellence from the Architectural Woodwork Institute. The courtroom is located in Myron Taylor Hall, a historic Gothic building constructed in the 1930s. Despite several prior renovations, the 3,000 square feet courtroom still lacked quality lighting and acoustics, accessibility and an audiovisual system. For presentations, students had to roll a projector or chalkboard to the front of the courtroom. The lack of modern systems contrasted sharply with the renowned guest speakers and dignitaries the courtroom frequently featured.
The renovation preserved the courtroom’s gothic architectural features while integrating accessibility and state-of-the art audiovisual technology, mechanical and lighting systems. The new plan included tiered seating for 100 students, a judges’ bench, a jury box and petitioner and respondent tables. Multiple projection screens and LCD monitors allow the judges, jurors and the audience to view evidence and presentations. All seating areas have microphones.
The courtroom’s AV equipment capabilities blend subtly into the original architecture. New acoustical and lighting systems integrate into the grand barrel vault ceiling. Custom white oak finishes by Genbrook Millwork, Inc., were used in the seating areas, lecterns, molding and wall panels that hide two large projection screens when not in use.
Upon their completion, the Statler Tower and the MacDonald Moot Court Room quickly became popular and successful learning environments for Cornell University.