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Ivy League Of Their Own - Cornell University (USA)

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    Ivy League Of Their Own - Cornell University (USA)

    As the most recent addition to Cornell’s already impressive built assets, it isn’t difficult to see why the project has turned heads across the globe.

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    News - 27.06.2019

    The last time they counted in 2008, Cornell University had 245,027 living alumni. Among this number are 31 Marshall Scholars, 28 Rhodes Scholars, and a staggering litany of famous names. Cornell is the stomping ground of Nobel Prize winners, NASA astronauts, presidents and prime ministers and a surprising percentage of the world’s leading C-level executives. Across its campus grounds is a veritable living museum of architectural history. Buildings by the likes of I.M Pei (of the Louvre Pyramid fame), Richard Meier and Charles Babcock punctuate lush gardens and lawns, with the most recent addition to this architectural hall of fame being former alum and current starchitect, Rem Koolhaas.

    Koolhaas’ Milstein Hall at Cornell University is one of the latest projects by the juggernaut architecture studio of OMA. As the most recent addition to Cornell’s already impressive built assets, it isn’t difficult to see why the project has turned heads across the globe. A consummate example of architectural form, Koolhaas has described Milstein Hall as “an exercise in modest, discrete intervention.” Steel, glass and cement coalesce into a striking architectural expression of Cornell’s guiding philosophy: “any person ... any study”.

    Seeking to foster collaboration, creative collisions, flexibility and active learning behaviours, Milstein Hall, in the words of Shohei Shigematsu who worked alongside Koolhaas, “was the direct response to the need for interaction that the art field entails.

    [Our goal...] was for it to serve as a pedagogical platform for the architecture, art and planning departments – an open condition that could trigger interaction and discussion.” In an interview with ArchDaily, Shigematsu further commented that “I am sure the students and faculty will generate unexpected uses and conditions that go beyond what we have planned for Milstein Hall.”

    A significant contributing factor to this is the degree of bespoke elements throughout the building. Take Milstein Hall’s central auditorium. Serving as both a teaching space and as a meeting room for university trustees, the space is harnessed for two very different purposes and needed a furnishings solution that could deliver on each. Working with Figueras International Seating, Cornell and OMA have been able to achieve a simple, informal solution for students using the auditorium for lectures, as well as high-performance chairs with a degree of pulchritude for the university’s venerated trustees.

    The result – a spacious chair with a built-in writing tablet that could be stored automatically under the floor and oriented in different positions – reaffirms Figueras’ position as a leading solutions provider for the unique needs of the contemporary education market.

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