ITHACA, N.Y. — As it services grow with the community’s wants and needs, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County is looking to build onto its Fall Creek offices.

Early plans for the property, located at 615 Willow Avenue, call for a two-phase expansion and renovation. The first phase would build 600 SF of storage space in conditioned and unconditioned storage containers to be located on an existing concrete pad. The second phase would demolish the 2,754 AAA Building (the east side of the property) and expand the parking lot.

But the third and last phase will be the biggest – a 2-story, 12,521 SF addition of office and community space, and a renovation of the existing entry atrium. The new digs would expand existing office functions and include a test café for those using the commercial kitchen, allowing community members to test culinary creations that they may wish to sell to the general public. A 2-story teaching greenhouse made from ETFE, high-efficiency structural plastic, would also be built. The new program space would be an overbuild over the parking lot, resting on a system of driven piles and steel beams. Renderings suggest the building will host some kind of “living” roof. Local architect Jason K. Demarest penned the design.

ccr community bldg

Rather unusually, the additions would be built with shipping containers, which have been gaining in popularity as a habitable structure in recent years. Shipping containers allow for a modular approach, and with a glut of containers around the world, they offer a unique form of materials re-use. However, there is a fair amount of effort required in making them safe, habitable and comfortable. Several buildings in New York City have been built out of shipping containers, and a shipping container building was recently proposed for Syracuse before the developers went forward with a more conventional design.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is Cornell’s community service unit, as part of its mission as a land grant college. With a presence in every county in the state, CCE is a non-profit that engages in research, outreach and educational programs on behalf of Cornell to its host counties, with a focus on economic vitality and ecologic sustainability.

A spokeswoman for CCE Tompkins County stated that the plans were still a work in progress, and nothing has been presented to the city just yet.

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at