Milstein Hall

by | 31. Jul 2012

Educational | Project

Photo: Iwan Baan


Milstein Hall is the first new building in over 100 years for the renowned College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) at Cornell University.

The new building is situated between Cornell’s historic Arts Quad and the natural Falls Creek Gorge redefining the entry for the northern end of the campus.

Formally the AAP was housed in four separate buildings, distinct in architectural style and programmatic use but similar in typology. Rather than creating a new free-standing building Milstein Hall is an addition to the AAP buildings creating a unified complex with continuous levels of indoor and outdoor interconnected spaces.


Photo: Iwan Baan


We wanted to provide something currently absent from the college, a space with the scale to facilitate collaboration. We also saw an opportunity to reconnect the gorge to the north side of the Arts Quad,
/Rem Koolhaas

A large horizontal plate is lifted off the (ground) and connected to the second levels of the AAP’s Sibley Hall and Rand Hall to provide 25,000 square feet of studio space with panoramic views of the surrounding environment.


Photo: Iwan Baan


Enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass and a green roof with 41 skylights, this “upper plate” cantilevers almost 50 feet over University Avenue to establish a relationship with the Foundry, a third existing AAP facility. The wide-open expanse of the plate, structurally supported by a hybrid truss system, stimulates interaction and allows flexible use over time.


Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan


Beneath the hovering studio plate, the ground level accommodates major program elements including the 253-seat auditorium and a dome that encloses a 5,000 square foot circular critique space.


Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan


From the main entry, a concrete bridge spanning 70 feet across the dome space draws people into the auditorium or brings them down the sculptural stairs to the lower level of Milstein Hall. The bridge’s structural concrete truss railing and stair allow the bridge to span across the dome column free.


Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan


The materiality of the lower level, constructed of exposed cast-in-place concrete, adds a contrast to the upper plate’s glass and steel character. However both spaces create frameworks of raw spaces to serve as a pedagogical platform for the AAP to generate new interaction driven by the students’ and faculty’s ambitions and explorations.

Milstein Hall provides the AAP its first auditorium and large scale lecture hall within its own facilities. The auditorium was designed to provide maximum flexibility to allow a multiplicity of programs and functions to occur. The auditorium is divided into two halves of fixed seats on the raked section of the dome and loose seats on the level section. When the auditorium is not used at its full capacity of 300 people, the lower level can be used for studio critiques and smaller meetings.


Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan



Photo: Iwan Baan


The glass-enclosed auditorium provides a permeable boundary between academic space and the public. When privacy or blackout is required, a custom designed curtain unfurls from the auditorium balcony in one continuous form.

The additional space provided by Milstein Hall enabled a new master plan of the College’s facilities creating extraordinary new spatial relationships between internal programmatic elements.

The building is expected to receive a Silver LEED certification with the possibility of achieving Gold.


Drawing courtesy OMASection


Model photo courtesy OMA


Model photo courtesy OMA



CITYIthaca, New York
KHA Architects, LLC