Bill and Melinda Gates Hall - Cornell University | The Plan
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Bill and Melinda Gates Hall - Cornell University


These two complex university buildings have both been painstakingly designed to meet their functional purpose as places of learning where experimentation and innovation are fostered by untrammelled exchange and socialisation, as well as to comply with stringent environmental and energy requirements.
The first - the Los Angeles site of Boston’s Emerson College - is located on Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood neighbourhood. Housing up to 217 students, the institute provides specialist courses in Communication and the Arts for future professionals. Like the building itself, the University is very much part of the local Los Angeles scene.
The second - Cornell University’s Bill and Melinda Gates Hall in Ithaca, New York State - is inserted into a traditional university campus, and brings the Computing and Information Science Faculty’s administrative, teaching and laboratory spaces, once scattered in various locations, under one roof.
Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) is set into a sprawling urban fabric characterised by few high-rises. This, together with the architecture’s form, makes the ten-storey building appear as if constructed on an elevation. Like another Morphosis-designed building in Los Angeles - the public administration headquarters, Caltrans -, the new university is a local landmark. Although grouped in traditional university campus format, ELA is wedged into the urban fabric, not isolated from it. Architecturally, it speaks to innovation. A huge, multifaceted, sculpted “portal” comprising several distinct parts joined by a series of nodes and links gives physical expression to the cultural and educational values informing the activities going on inside. Placed on a north-south axis, the building provides captivating views onto the surrounding city through the “frame” of the huge portal. Pointedly too, the volume housing the teaching facilities lies within this central frame, as if the...

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