Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University


Morphosis Architects

What was the challenge?

Cornell University selected nationally recognized architecture firm, Morphosis, to design a $46 million Computer and Information Sciences building. They wanted a “nontraditional space where ideas can flow” with the goal of achieving a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “silver” rating. Morphosis selected Barton & Loguidice to address site design challenges such a steep drop in elevation across the property, a busy roadway adjacent to the site, buried utilities (steam, gas, electric, water, sewer), and limited space to achieve stormwater management. B&L also provided guidance on the streetscape and landscape, vehicular parking, ADA-compliant pedestrian access, bicycle accommodations, and maintenance/emergency concerns.


How did Barton & Loguidice provide a solution?

B&L’s engineers and landscape architects worked with Morphosis, led by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, to align the building on the property and to devise a workable grading plan that aligned with ADA compliance, while fitting the elevation drop across the site. The finished design consisted of a main floor front entry and site slope that keeps the basement level accessible towards the rear of the site. It was necessary to design several stairways and concrete ramps to accommodate the grading.  Storm drainage was accounted for through the innovative reuse of an existing sand bed infiltration system, along with porous concrete and planting areas. In addition, design was required to both rework the buried utilities and implement a new high-pressure steam line.

Why was the project a success?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Hall opened in 2015, and has received acclaim from students, faculty, and the Cornell University administration. B&L’s sustainable site design contributions helped the project exceed the desired Silver LEED certification and achieve a Gold rating. The project also won an award for Engineering News Record’s Best Project in the Higher Education & Research Category.

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