January 1, 2017

Daylight in a Celebrated Cornell U Building

“It’s a really well built, well detailed, high thermal performance skylight. It’s super cost-affordable because it’s modular.” 

Eneref Institute examines how new modular skylights modernize space at Cornell department of architecture.

East Sibley Hall is home to Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (Cornell AAP), whose Department of Architecture is one of the world’s most prestigious architecture programs. Originally constructed in the late 1800s, by the early 2000s Sibley Hall had undergone numerous transformations. The third floor, having served as an engineering lab, design studio, and home to the university Fine Arts Library, was in great need of attention.

On the roof of Sibley Hall were two skylights that were decades old and had frosted over and faded with time—the amount of natural daylight coming through the skylights had been reduced significantly. The exterior steel frame of the building was in extremely poor condition and leaked; and, after many years of housing the weight of the Fine Arts Library, the top of the building had begun to spread apart and the exterior walls were cracking.

“The existing space was in pretty bad shape,” said Feuerstein, Architect with Leven Betts Studio.

The challenge was how to modernize East Sibley Hall’s third floor in line with the college’s goals of colocating faculty offices adjacent to student’s studios and creating a collaborative, multiuse space; maintain the integrity of the designated historic building; and satisfy the discriminating needs of the Cornell AAP architecture faculty.

Views of East Sibley hall third floor renovation: architecture department faculty offices and the Frances Shloss Studio

“If you had asked me before the project, I would have said my biggest fear was installing these new skylights in a 122-year-old building. Honestly, it was one of the easiest parts of the project.”

Daylight for Schools, Right to Daylight