Cornell University, Upson Hall

Ithaca, New York

Project Info
Cornell University, Upson Hall
Ithaca, New York
Completion date: 2017
Square Footage: 160,000

2018 AIA New York Design Awards, Award of Merit

The Upson Hall renovation project included a unique interdisciplinary design team of Perkins + Will, Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis (LTL), and Thornton-Tomasetti in collaboration to initiate an aesthetic, programmatic, and sustainable transformation of the post-war era Engineering Quadrangle. Beginning with a masterplan to envision an energy-responsive re-cladding of seven buildings originally designed by Perkins + Will in 1956, the project focuses on the renovation and programming of the existing 160,000-sf Upson Hall to accommodate hybrid engineering lab, classroom, office, and student project spaces.

With the goal of creating the highest level of building performance on the Ithaca campus, the team worked to integrate design excellence and energy efficiency. In repurposing a post-WWII building with efficient systems and performative envelope, the Upson Hall project transforms a work of international modernism into a highly tuned, site specific building, setting precedent for the rejuvenation of the Engineering Quadrangle. Through an integrated approach to façade design combined with energy-modelling, the climate-specific response of a “transparent blanket” was developed, calibrating open glazed areas to maximize daylight in Ithaca’s overcast environment with heavily insulated walls to perform within a cold winter climate.

To foster communication between the engineering disciplines, vertical public spaces are carved from the existing structure, creating a visual and social connection.