Sunday, May 24, 2009

OMA: Cornell's New Architecture School


After delays, doubts and economic difficulties and 'put on hold' close calls, Cornell University Board approves moving forward on Milstein Hall. The future building for Cornell's Architecture Dept., and as designed by OMA, under Rem Koolhaas' lead. There are many stories and past coverage on how the School got there and the selection of the project. One thing is sure, it will be a new type of architecture school that goes beyond the examples of such, among its rivals. Cornell University finally integrating the craft, politics, public participation, and perhaps a new placement of ‘architecture school.’
The project doubles up on Mies' National Museum in Berlin, Germany. First, it makes itself a room among the existing buildings and creates a pedestrian friendly web of a building inside. Once you are in, the proposed building functions with both permanent and the transportive spaces, via its placement and connections. This is all speculative but expected...


At this point and ideally, there is an architecture school, bursting with energy, audience and live wired connections to the world. The school as the active block of in between space, connecting Sibley and Rand Halls. And making The Foundry, the building housing the sculptors, not only come alive but almost put a timely and effective stop to cantilever's gallant move in danger of becoming little too much. I give architects a big point for playing the arithmetic when it comes to the Foundry.
Building's ability to inject such 'circulatory' function indeed surpasses the National Museum's one ended loop and organize the building inside as both permanent school program and the transient people mover, giving the dean of the university to walk over the architecture school and watch the students without their knowledge and perhaps be more informed about what they do.
This is all open architectural broadcasting from the department.
What more an architecture could ask for? Integrate with everything else.
If successfully completed, the Milstein Hall might be programmatically most integrated project. Both physically and conceptually concerning architectural education. Sort of a wake up call to other schools to open up and emerge in a literal sense.
The days of reclusive architecture school is being changed with a space that is the conceptual equivalent of a live public news broadcasting like TV station as a storefront show, once under one of the now sadly gone WTC Towers.

What more, at the end, we will also see a tongue in cheek love bite for the National Museum that Rem Koolhaas has been talking about for a while. Making a building from the buildings of his own, which in turn buildings from other buildings, putting the pieces of floating ideas of several buildings together and pulling all in . Here is your intelligent building and proposition to recalibrate the academic environment of architecture and the public face of the architect in the making.

This is an ultimate manifestation and sure way to increase the volume from the new platform for architecture. This is an opportunity to show architecture is relevant, socially connected, worthwhile, participatory and beneficial to welfare of the public. If there will be any fine-tuning left, this interaction between the public and the architecture should be further blurred. In that regard, one can only wish the premise of the design fulfilled. Starting with the construction of the Milstein Hall, the new set of conditions for architectural education must also start. After the project has built, its effectiveness will be depending on the inventive leadership, curriculum, and the efforts of faculty and the students.

This building will add more value for the Dept. The OMA takes Cornell? Dutch?
This much should be obvious.


images from Milstein Hall website

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