27 August 2011
OMA's Milstein Hall at Cornell opens to students
OMA celebrated the opening of Milstein Hall this week as students and faculty held their first classes in the new 25,000 square feet of flexible studio space at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) in upstate New York. The Cornell Sun reported students flocking to the new drawing tables inside the elevated slab of Milstein Hall, which connects the existing Rand and Sibley Halls in a contiguous workspace. "Not only is this going to be our new home, but everyone has a new attitude," Ben Waters, a student, told the Sun. "Everyone has this new-found sense of pride for the program." (See the video of student reactions here.)
Sixteen design studios will use the wide-open expanse of Milstein’s upper plate, which features a unique hybrid truss system of 1,200 tons of steel to support two dramatic cantilevers. The design, led by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu and partner Rem Koolhaas in collaboration with associate Ziad Shehab, marks the AAP’s first new building in over 100 years.

"The upper plate of the box was a direct response to the need for interaction that the art field entails, though we realize this cannot be perfectly achieved or designed by architecture," Shigematsu commented. "Our ambition for the upper plate was for it to serve as a pedagogical platform for the architecture, art and planning departments – an open condition that could trigger interaction and discussion. I am sure the students and faculty will generate unexpected uses and conditions that go beyond what we have planned for it."

Milstein Hall, which went under construction in August 2009, officially opens in October; Rem Koolhaas will deliver an inaugural lecture there on the 20th.