Facilities that fit the college's long-term mission.
Building spaces that successfully advance the student-centered mission of the College of Human Ecology requires a unique approach to facilities planning. By accepting the challenge to develop spaces to support the growth of innovative research in fields from neuroscience to historical and contemporary fashion, our facilities team works closely with the faculty, staff, and students to create spaces that serve the college and the broader Cornell community.
In 1990, the college leadership began work on a comprehensive facilities plan that has contributed greatly to the college's long-term vision to lead in multidisciplinary, field-based research, innovative teaching, and outreach and extension efforts.
Since that time, new construction, renovations, and technology upgrades in the college's long-time home, Martha Van Rensselaer (MVR) Hall, and Savage Hall, a hub for the Division of Nutritional Sciences, aim to keep pace with the growth of our research and teaching programs.
The addition of the new Human Ecology Building (nearly 89,000 sq. ft.) this year replaces the "23 equivalent amount of space lost when the MVR North Building, in the same location, was determined to be unsound and closed in 2001. Still, the addition of the new building is just one large milestone in an ongoing series of renovations and updates to college buildings anticipated in the facilities master plan that guides the growth of our facilities. Even before the loss of MVR North, it was clear that growing expectations for more space and technology required a forward - looking philosophy that guarantees that our facilities meet the evolving needs of our college.
The success of our research and teaching programs is due to our incredibly ingenious faculty members, who seek to collaborate around key issues and lead research in many new directions. Our facilities plan will continue to involve faculty members and students in a way that ensures that our facilities keep pace with their innovation and scholarship.
For example, the facilities plan anticipated that the success of new faculty members would depend on more lab space and more access to equipment for them and postdoctoral researchers, along with greater opportunities to share ideas and collaborate with peers. The facilities coming on line now and in the next five years will accommodate the needs of a large cohort of new professors, as the college works to replace nearly 20 percent of its faculty due to an unusually large number of expected retirements.
As this issue of Human Ecology explains, students have not had to wait for new spaces to be built to learn from them. In fact, the ambitious facilities upgrades and renovations currently underway: benefit from student-led design teams. Many elements of the facilities that the Class of 2015 is now enjoying were envisioned and created by earlier classes--just as this freshman class will likely influence the next phase of construction currently underway in MVR, including reconfiguration of office and research space for multiple departments and the integration of a whole-body 3 Tesia (3T) magnetic resonance imaging/spectroscopy system (fMRI) as the centerpiece of a neurosciehce research center that serves the university community.
Meeting our college's facilities demands continues to be a long-term challenge. As the research programs at the college continue to evolve, so do the requirements of new faculty members and their classroom curricula. As a result of a proactive facilities plan, the spaces that serve the college's missions are a magnet for collaboration and, for students, they help to make multidisciplinary approaches to learning and discovery abundant.
Kay Obendorf is senior associate dean for research and graduate education and a professor of fiber science & apparel design.