Bailey Hall, Cornell University

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Ithaca, NY
Cornell University
52,700 SF
44,800 SF Restoration
7,900 SF Addition
2007 AIA New York State Design Award of Excellence
2007 Historic Ithaca Preservation Award
Award of Excellence, New York Construction News Best of 2007 Awards

Bailey Hall was built in 1912 as an auditoria style lecture and assembly hall at Cornell University. The building was suffering from many years of deferred maintenance, and under the guidance of the NYS Construction Fund and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, it was fully rehabilitated. The challenge was to preserve the building’s unique style and detailing while bringing it into compliance with modern codes and providing for the diverse requirements of a vibrant multi-use space.

The design included a reorganization and upgrade to improve acoustical characteristics, incorporate new audio and video systems, and introduce environmental and life safety systems.The existing heating, plumbing, and electrical systems were completely replaced, and to accommodate new mechanical systems and new programmatic elements, Mitchell Giurgola designed a three-story addition at the rear of the building. The rehabilitation of Bailey Hall has ensured the continued use and future vitality of one of Cornell’s most central and treasured buildings.

Building Program

Customizing the Acoustic Environment

The varied performance types that Bailey Hall hosts require a wide range of acoustic environments. A series of adjustable pivoting acoustic panels that ring the back of the wall of the dress circle and balcony were designed to meet these conflicting needs. In both configurations, the pattern and texture of the panels reinforce the rhythm of the Ionic columns and complement the delicate fluting of the shafts.

When closed, the panel faces present a painted wood, acoustically reflective surface for un-amplified choral and symphonic performances.
When open, the fabric lined panel interiors create an acoustically absorbent environment ideal for amplified performances and lectures.