Cornell University Expanding Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science

Renderings courtesy of Leers Weinzapfel Associates

by Katia Lucic

Cornell University’s new 135,000sf building for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science is now under construction. Bringing together the departments of Computer Science, Information Science, and Statistics and Data Science for the first time in one complex, the new building will create both a precinct and a destination for the university’s rapidly growing computing and information science programs. The multi-use building will connect to the college’s existing Bill & Melinda Gates Hall and, according to Dean Kavita Bala, “expand opportunities for student research and experiential learning with new research initiatives that will position us for continued world leadership in tech.”

Collaborative space

Located at the southern gateway to Cornell’s Ithaca, N.Y. campus and adjacent to one of its world-famous gorges, the new 4-story building will define a highly identifiable Bowers CIS precinct of continuous building and open space, creating a magnet attracting students from multiple disciplines across the entire university. Its three research floors connected to Gates Hall will float above a lively and active ground floor, framing an outdoor room for daily use, small gatherings, and large ceremonies. The two wings of academic research offices and labs will be joined by a suite of collaborative spaces on each of the upper floors. At the ground level, a student “ramble” along the courtyard edge will provide places for individual and small group study while, a cafe, commons, large interactive classroom, maker space, and a series of large builder labs will invite students to collaborate and engage with research. A ribbon of faceted sculptural metal fins will wrap the three upper research floors, creating a distinct identity for the building while maintaining a sustainable limited window area.

Creating comfortable and healthy interior environments is a key sustainability driver for the project. Exposed CLT ceilings, as part of the hybrid framing system, will provide spaces with natural warmth while reducing the building’s overall embodied carbon. A high-performance envelope with optimized glazing areas will significantly reduce the building’s energy usage and enhance occupant thermal comfort while optimizing views and natural light. The academic upper floors will cantilever over the public ground level along the southwest facade to improve visual comfort, protect from solar glare, and optimize heat gain for seasonal variations. Efficient mechanical systems work in concert with facade details to reduce overall energy use to meet stringent local and state energy regulations. A whole-building approach, including site, materials, and building systems will result in an enhanced student experience in a cutting-edge research institution.

Katia Lucic

Katia Lucic, AIA, LEED AP is associate principal at Leers Weinzapfel Associates. She is project architect for Cornell University Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.