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New building, key to Cornell's life sciences, gets boost from Weill gift and goes for 'green' gold

Joan and Sanford Weill have given $50 million to Cornell's New Life Sciences Initiative, which will be directly applied to the Life Sciences Technology Building taking shape on the Ithaca campus.

The $162 million, 250,000-square-foot building, which will be named Weill Hall in recognition of the gift, is on track for completion in early 2008. The research facility will stand as the centerpiece of Cornell's New Life Sciences Initiative (NLSI) -- an overhaul of the life sciences on campus to keep pace with the genomics-led science revolution.

Building managers are also vying for gold -- the Gold Certification standard for sustainable design and construction practices from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

Practices that should help qualify the building for the gold standard -- a rarity among research facilities -- include: construction debris recycling; Cornell's sustainable transportation management plan; a high amount of material manufactured within 500 miles of the building; use of recycled content in various parts of building, such as the white recycled aluminum panels on the exterior skin; green living roofs; reflectively colored sidewalks to reduce heat; and such energy conservation measures as reduced airflows in empty rooms and lighting controls.

The four-story building will provide scientists from across the university with cutting-edge laboratories and classrooms for interdisciplinary research and teaching in the biological, physical, engineering, computational and social sciences. It also will house the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which combines biology, medicine and engineering, and will serve as a catalyst for advancing collaboration between Ithaca-based and Weill Cornell Medical College faculty.

The building also will be home to the Department of Computational Biology, which will allow researchers to apply mathematical and statistical methods to biological sciences; a biophysics center, which will use techniques from physics and chemistry to better understand basic life processes; an incubator for start-up businesses; and the H. Laurance and Nancy L. Fuller Learning Center, a wing focused on both formal and informal exchanges among researchers, faculty and students.

Weill Hall, also funded by $25 million from New York state as well as gifts from alumni and others, will be the largest life sciences research facility in the state.

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