Paving the way for Bailey Plaza

Crews pounded slabs of paving stone into place as work on Bailey Plaza moved toward completion this week. Construction is expected to continue for two more weeks with a ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for Oct. 19.

Groundbreaking for the $4.5 million project began in March, and once the heavy lifting is complete, the plaza perimeter will be landscaped with ornamental evergreens, red maples, Kentucky coffee trees and red-twigged dogwoods. The highlight of the project is a 50-foot-long outcropping of layered stone slabs, sloping from ground upward at nearly a 45-degree angle -- a feature that will include gently seeping waters mimicking the nearby gorges.

The Italianate plaza was designed by the offices of Michael Van Valkenburgh, a 1973 graduate of Cornell's Department of Landscape Architecture, and is sponsored by the Office of the Provost. The construction is being carried out by Lechase Construction Inc.

The pedestrian pathways are lined with natural cleft and thermal finish bluestone, a resilient type of the legendary Llrenroc, the locally quarried shale-dense stone. Wood benches 30 feet long and hewn from Oregon Douglas firs are now in place; landscaping will begin later in the fall when conditions are optimal for transplanting trees and shrubs.

Bailey Plaza was designed as an aesthetic forecourt to complement the $17.3 million renovation of Bailey Hall, Cornell's historic auditorium that originally opened in 1913. The plaza is intended to improve the quality and organization of the area and will serve as a public gathering space for the Cornell community and visitors. The site will support pedestrian use and tie the plaza area to the surrounding campus.

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