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Milstein Hall: Continuously Over Budget?

Here’s a little something that slipped past us in last week’s analysis of Cornell’s financial plan for the 2007-2008 academic year: Milstein Hall is now slated to cost the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning $49 million dollars.

That’s a lot of money. Loyal readers, no doubt, will recall that when Rem Koolhaas’s “miracle box” design was released last fall, Milstein Hall was expected to cost $40 million dollars. Unless there are other costs associated with the building that weren't announced at the time, this represented close to a 25% cost overrun.

This is not to mention the fact that when Milstein Hall was first announced… way back when… it was billed as a $25 million dollar investment when it was first designed by Steven Holl architects.

So now Milstein Hall is apparently 200% over its original budget, and the ground hasn’t even been broken yet. It’s approaching Duffield Hall-esque costs, but I sense that society will get a lot more worth out of nanotech research than architects, no matter how many awards a building may get.

The Daily Sun ran a clairvoyant editorial on the topic this past winter, hoping “Cornell will stop wasting time and money and focus on the true point of Milstein — giving AAP students much-needed workspace” while noting that the Koolhaas plan still needs to be “revised and must still go through several planning stages.”

This all begs the question: Wasn’t one of the primary reasons behind Hunter Rawlings’s planned dissolution of the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning in 2002 the fact that the college was unable to follow any sort of budgetary guidelines? And what makes us think that AAP is better able to do this now, in 2007?

Anybody want to place odds on the probability that Koolhaas’s version of Milstein Hall actually gets built?

Late Update: The odds are quite low, apparently. An anonymous tipster writes in to inform us that Milstein's current design is 'infeasible' as it encroaches upon University Avenue, a non-Cornell street. Apparently the City of Ithaca's planning board is also not enthused by the fact that Cornell did not approach them first before publicly unveiling the plan. You would think that a college full of planners would have known better...

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on June 28, 2007 (#)

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