ITHACA, N.Y. — As any Cornell student, staff or faculty member can tell you, it seems about 10% of the campus is under construction at any given time. That is why the impending lull in activities is that much more notable. With the exception of Maplewood, which is technically a private housing project by firm EdR Trust that uses Cornell land and serves Cornell, there don’t appear to be any grand construction projects on the Big Red’s Ithaca Campus beyond this spring (The Cornell Tech campus in New York City is a different story).

That’s not to say that there’s nothing in the pipeline – there are still plans for a $55 million building for Biomedical Engineering, new North Campus dorms, and whatever ends up happening over by East Hill Plaza. But those are far enough out that there’s going to be something of a quiet period before the next set of projects get their shovels in the ground.

So, let’s fire up that photo gallery and take a look at what’s finishing up over the next few months.

Cornell Health

Most folks know this as Gannett Health Center and will keep calling it such for a while, but now the official name for Cornell’s campus health services building is “Cornell Health“. We’ll assume the spirit of Frank Gannett won’t haunt the place in retaliation.

Cornell is putting the finishes touches on the $55 million renovation and expansion, which involved a gut renovation of the 1950s building, and included about 66,000 square feet of new space for previously cramped health and medical functions. The exterior is virtually complete except for sidewalk installation and landscaping, and the inside is furnished and stocked with the latest in modern-looking plush seating. The last photo is the building’s pharmacy, which can be accessed from an inside door, or outside via the foyer if the rest of the building is closed.

Upson Hall Renovations

Over on Cornell’s Engineering Quad, another multi-year project in the home stretch is the $74.5 million Upson Hall renovation. On the outside, most of the exterior cladding is complete. Nearly all of the aluminum window inserts have been attached, nearly all the grey terra cotta has been clipped on over the mineral wool insulation, and Cornell is going through a significant volume of grey aluminum panels as it finishes up the utility/stairwell columns. Note that those thin yellow aluminum plates on the exterior are a design featurethey’re intended to pay homage to the original canary yellow aluminum curtain bands that once lined Upson Hall’s facade.

At this point, the upper three floors are occupied, and the lower two floors and basement are being finished out. Drywall has been hung but fixtures and railings still have yet to be installed. Those should go in over the next few weeks, and interim landscaping features will be installed by The Pike Company (who also did Cornell Health) before the building opens for full occupancy in August.

Hope you like the new 21st century design, because Cornell intends to apply the same design motif on virtually every building on the quad.

Cornell Ag Quad Rehabilitation

One could say that the beauty of Cornell lies not with their buildings, but in their open spaces, natural and landscaped. For the past year, Cornell has been tackling a $9.6 million renovation of the Ag Quad that involved replacing underground utility lines (sewer, steam pipes, electric), and a reconstruction of sidewalks, landscaping and public plazas.

The west half of the quad, which had fewer utility conduits to worry about, has been done since the end of last fall. Most of the subterranean work was finished by the end of last year, but because icy conditions aren’t conducive to planting and sidewalk paving, the work had to wait for consistent warm weather, and the eastern half is finishing up this summer. Along with new sidewalks and new plantings are the installation of hardy stone seating areas and pavers, grass seeding, and movable furniture that we’re hoping to not see blowing around in the next strong storm.

Cornell Law (Hughes Hall) Renovations

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much – some of the exterior stone veneer has been stripped, and the walls removed to make way for a projecting glass-encased stairwell. Most of the work on the second phase of the law school renovation is internal, replacing former dorms for law school students with faculty and administrative/staff support offices, as well as event spaces for law school functions. Renovations will also take place in the Fork and Gavel Cafe, and enclosing the Hughes Hall loggia to make it an interior corridor and reception area. The price tag comes out to about $10.2 million.

Taking a semi-educated guess, the steel beams sitting outside the building are likely for the construction of metal stud walls that will serve as the skeleton for new interior partitions between rooms and common spaces – this is a gut renovation, with the exception of structural supports, the interior is being completely redone. The plan is to have Welliver, the Montour Falls-based general contractor, deliver the finished product during the winter.

Cornell Veterinary School Expansion

So many projects in the final stretch up on East Hill. The Vet School expansion’s multipurpose atrium has been closed up with its curtain wall glazing, and you can see clear through to the sky on the other side in the lead photo. From the outside, the new administrative and library wing haven’t changed much since March, but at this point all Welliver has left on the exterior is some window replacements, exterior panels and detail finishes. Curbing, some underground utilities replacements and a new bus pull-off are other new or ongoing site features, with landscaping set to go in within a few weeks.

Like Gannett and Upson, the vet school should be welcoming the first visitors into its new library, classrooms and atrium this August. The $74.1 million expansion enables Cornell to expand their incoming veterinary class from 102 students to 120. DVMs are a four-year graduate program, so the net increase in students will be 72 as each 120-person class is enrolled over a period of four years.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Vet school campus is the new $7 million Community Practice Service Building. While close in proximity, the project is separate from the school’s expansion. The foundation has been formed and poured and new utility lines are being installed (water, sewer, electric; these connect to the building through all the poles and tubes sticking out in the building footprint). The timeline for the new 12,000 SF HOLT Architects-designed building is May 2017-May 2018, a couple months later than originally programmed. G.M. Crisalli of Syracuse is the contractor in charge.

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