Ithaca, New York


Owner: Cornell University

Completion Date: January 2011

Program: A two-story, 5,900-square-foot visitor service and education center on the grounds of Cornell University's botanical garden. The steel-frame structure is perched on the edge of a knoll; the upper level, which opens onto a flat area carved into the side of the slope, houses educational and community spaces such as classrooms, a conference room, and a large multipurpose room. The lower level offers visitor services, including an exhibition hall, a gift shop, and a café. Mechanical spaces are bermed into the hillside.

Design concept and solution: Conceiving the ipe-wood-and-glass pavilion as an extension of the landscape, the architects envisioned the lower level as an active public terrace and the upper level as a more secluded space for the students' academic work. Baird Sampson Neuert designed the ground floor as a transparent, glass-enclosed continuation of the garden's flatlands. A limestone retaining wall that hews to the knoll extends inside to become an architectural feature defining the lobby. The circulation path through the building mirrors the contours of the landscape itself: visitors entering on the lower level pass through the lobby to the rear of the building, where they ascend a staircase that follows the grade of the knoll up to the second-level terrace. The architects favored simple interior finishes, choosing polished concrete for much of the flooring and fir for cabinetry and wall paneling. A wood louver on the lobby facade modulates the light filtering into the building.

Total construction cost: $5.68 million

Location: Cornell Plantations, Ithaca, New York


Cornell University

Baird Sampson Neuert Architects
317 Adelaide Street West, Suite 1004
Toronto, Canada M5V 1P9
T. 416 363 8877  F. 416 363 4029

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Partner-in-Charge: Jon Neuert

Project Architect: Yves Bonnardeaux

Project Team:
Harvey Wu
Andrea Macecek
Ian Douglas
Teddy Benedicto
Winda Lau
Cyril Charron
Hugh Clark
Jesse Dormody

Engineer(s): Blackwell Bowick, ME Engineering, T.G. Miller P.C.,

Landscape: Halvorson Design Partnership

Lighting: ME Engineering

General contractor: Welliver McGuire

Tom Arban

CAD system, project management, or other software used: Autodesk Revit



Structural system: Steel by Rochester Structural LLC

Exterior cladding
Masonry: Finger Lakes Stone Company Inc.

Metal/glass curtainwall: Aluminum Framed Glazing System by Kawneer; Operable Vents by Alumicor

Wood: Ipe

Elastomeric: Tremco

Other: Vegetated Roof by Bioroof Systems

Glass: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope Glass, Rochester Insulated Glass Inc.

Skylights: Supersky Products Inc.

Entrances: Kawneer, CR Laurence

Metal doors: Curries

Wood doors: Algoma Hardwoods

Sliding doors: Dorma

Locksets: Sargent

Hinges: Rixson, McKinney

Closers: Sargent

Exit devices: Sargent

Pulls: Rockwood, CR Laurence

Cabinet hardware: Manfred Frank

Display Cases: Hadley Exhibits

Guards & Handrails: Accufab Inc.

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: E.M. Pfaff & Son

Paints and stains: ICI Paints

Floor and wall tile: Apavisa Porcelain (Restrooms)

Carpet: Interface

Operable Partitions: Modernfold

Other furniture: Retail Shelving by Seccose, Italy distributed by Conran New York

Chalkboards: Platinum Visual Systems

Interior ambient lighting: Cooper Lighting

Exterior: Bega, Hess

Controls: Crestron

Elevators/Escalators: Kone

American Standard, Haws
Handryers: Mitsubishi

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Evacuated Tube Solar Collector: Silicon Solar Inc.