CALS plans major renovation of Stocking Hall

Architects' rendition of the new Stocking Hall. Construction will begin next September.

With $105 million from the State University Construction Fund, Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) will build a new four-story building to replace Stocking Hall's "runway" and refurbish Stocking Hall, starting September 2010, to give the Department of Food Science and the landmark Cornell Dairy Bar state-of-the art homes.

The innovative design -- including a glass-fronted Dairy Bar and dairy plant and ground-floor laboratories for wine production and sensory studies of food -- will invite the public to learn more about food and dairy processing. From an observational balcony above the Dairy Plant, visitors will have a bird's-eye view as Cornell ice cream, milk, pudding and yogurt move from processing to pasteurization to packaging.

The four-year project calls for demolishing and rebuilding the middle "runway" portion of Stocking Hall, the Dairy Bar and dairy plant along Tower Road with the new four-story building; the Stocking Hall "tower" on Wing Drive will be refurbished. The more modern Food Science Lab, at Tower and Judd Falls roads, will operate as a food processing research facility while reconstruction occurs.

Stocking Hall, which dates to 1923, will be outfitted with new laboratories for the study of connections between foods and human health, food safety, and food and biomaterial processing. Other highlights include a campus teaching winery and crush pad for viticulture and enology students, and modern classrooms and networked meeting spaces.

"The Stocking Hall renovation project presents a timely opportunity for Cornell's nationally top-ranked food science program to provide the campus and Ithaca communities with a better understanding of how food moves from the field to the marketplace," said Kathryn Boor, food science chair. "Citizens around the globe are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is handled, processed and marketed."

Boor said the overhaul would improve research and extension directed at dairy and food processors, and expand training for inspectors from the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, as well as state-authorized certified milk inspectors. A modernized facility will also allow CALS to compete for more food safety, quality and processing research funds from federal and state agencies and private companies.

"Because our program conducts research and outreach aimed at improving dairy product quality and safety and wine quality, this renovation project will directly contribute to improving the viability of the New York dairy and wine industries, which are typified by family-owned and -operated businesses," Boor said.

The Dairy Plant's ice cream freezer, outdated tanks and pasteurization equipment will be replaced with computer-controlled machinery capable of transmitting data directly from the floor of the plant to the Web for access by employees, researchers and students.

"The redesign of Stocking Hall will make our day-to-day operations more efficient, allowing us more time and resources to focus on our core mission of supporting teaching, research and extension," said Jason Huck, general manager of the Dairy Plant.

Next summer, the Cornell Dairy Bar will move to a temporary scooping station in Kennedy Hall's Trillium Express to make way for construction. Once the first phase of construction is complete in 2013, the iconic Dairy Bar will reopen in Stocking Hall with a revived look and an expanded menu and seating.

Each year, the dairy processes 1.5 million pounds of raw milk from cows at the Cornell Dairy Teaching and Research Center in Harford, N.Y. It produces 140,000 gallons of milk, 20,000 gallons of ice cream, and 4,000 gallons of yogurt and pudding annually. About 80 percent of these products are featured at Cornell Dining locations, while the remainder is distributed to Cornell group houses and departments.

Ted Boscia is a staff writer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.