New building to create ‘unified complex’ for Bowers CIS
By Tom Fleischman
Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2023 on a state-of-the-art academic building for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science. The new building will accommodate the college’s rapid growth, promote student and faculty collaborations and create an open landscaped green space with Bill and Melinda Gates Hall.
The building will provide space and maintain community for Bowers CIS, where 76% of all Cornell undergraduates take at least one class, and which has experienced a sixfold increase in enrollment over the past decade and recently passed the milestone of 2,000 student majors. Expected to open in 2025, it will also bring the college’s three departments – computer science, information science, and statistics and data science – into a single complex for the first time.
“There’s a huge intellectual benefit from having the departments together as a coherent and collaborative whole,” said Kavita Bala, dean of Cornell Bowers CIS. “The inspiration that results from working close together and serendipitously meeting each other is going to have a huge positive impact on seeding new kinds of ideas that cross disciplines and department boundaries.”
To make room for the new building, Cornell will relocate its NCAA Division I baseball field to the corner of Ellis Hollow and Game Farm roads, south of the McGovern soccer fields in the Town of Ithaca.
The new synthetic-turf baseball field will feature stadium seating for 500, as well as an enclosed clubhouse and press box. The stadium complex, designed by Stantec Ewing Cole Architects, will be built into the existing hillside; spectators will enter at concourse level and either walk down to their seats or stand for an unobstructed view of the field.
An 80-car parking lot will be built adjacent to the field, connected to Ellis Hollow Road by a new private access road.
“Hoy Field has been a wonderful home to the Cornell Baseball program for 100 years,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “In collaboration with the coaching and athletics staff, we’re confident the new field and facility will introduce an exciting new chapter for Cornell Baseball.”
The project is largely made possible by the 2020 gift from Ann S. Bowers ’59 that named the college.
The new L-shaped building will be located south of Gates Hall and attached by a bridge at its eastern façade. Together, the four-story buildings will form an open landscaped green space that will provide a place for gathering and events, while also strengthening the identity of Bowers CIS. Rhodes Hall, which houses elements of Bowers CIS, as well as Upson and Duffield halls, will be visible from the building and its landscaped areas.
“The outdoor space will be wonderful,” Bala said. “Our students will have a place to hang out and be part of our community.”
The new college building is fully accessible along its length, with multiple entrances; the main entrance will face Hoy Road, reached by a sloping accessible path up from a new crosswalk, or along a pathway from Gates Hall. The Gimme! Coffee currently in Gates Hall will move to the new building’s Hoy Road entrance foyer.
Bala envisions the two buildings becoming one space for Bowers CIS. “Our plan is to really have it be a unified complex,” she said, “with the departments flowing across these two spaces, and fostering continuity across the college.”
The ground floor of the new building will contain the most active elements of the building, including the cafe; a large common area for gathering; large classrooms; and spaces for maker and builder labs. The upper floors will house research and administrative offices, research labs, associated collaboration spaces and meeting spaces.
The structure will feature high-performance building materials that meet or exceed Cornell’s sustainability goals – including carbon reduction, energy use reduction, water conservation and integrated landscape.
Construction on the new home for Cornell baseball will begin later this year, and is expected to be completed in time for the 2023 season. Hoy Field celebrated its 100th anniversary this year; it hosted opposing players including Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig (Columbia), former president George H.W. Bush (Yale) and former New York Mets pitcher and current broadcaster Ron Darling (Yale).
Cornell has hired Boston-based architects Leers Weinzapfel, along with landscape architects Olin Studio, to design the new building for Bowers CIS.