Episode 026

Rem Koolhaas-Designed Milstein Hall A Disaster with Cornell University Professor of Architecture, Jonathan Ochshorn

Enoch SearsOct 10, 2013
Milstein Hall Cornell University Code Violations

Cornell University's new architecture building designed by Rem Koolhaas' Office of Metropolitan Architecture is a “disaster” says Cornell University architecture professor Jonathan Ochshorn. “The code violations are egregious”, states Ochshorn. In this interview we discuss the conflict between architectural abstraction and the built environment. The architecture school's newest building cost over $55 million dollars, yet it's design doesn't comply with the most current edition of the International Building Code or the Building Code of New York State. Go here to read the detailed analysis by Professor Ochshorn –> Critique of Milstein Hall .

The building has several flagrant code violations [1. revised 10/15/2013 Professor Ochshorn repeats what he said in the interview – Actually, the maximum allowable area is exceeded under current Codes, which would require a fire wall; but the building was found to be compliant under the peculiar 2002 Building Code of NYS, based on a unique provision added by NYS legislators that was subsequently repealed in the 2007 and 2010 Codes. So Milstein Hall was nonconforming (not meeting the standards of current codes), but not noncompliant in this respect. There  were, however, other instances of noncompliance (I mentioned the Fine Arts Library on the 3rd floor of Rand Hall, and the crit room space with only one exit).] The building also leaks. The crit space on the ground floor lacks proper exiting.

Cornell Architecture Professor Jonathan Ochshorn goes into detail about the design flaws of this building on his interview on the Business of Architecture show here. In this interview Ochshorn also points out the flaws with USGBC's LEED rating system.

What say you? Have we taken starchitecture too far? Is OMA to be applauded or upbraided for flaunting practical considerations like the building code and weather-tightness?

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Milstein Hall Cornell University Code ViolationsPhoto by Theodore Ferringer

Show Notes:

Read Professor Ochshorn's detailed analysis here: Critique of Milstein Hall.

Interview Transcript and Members Only Resources:

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Enoch Bartlett Sears is the founder of the Architect Business Institute, Business of Architecture and co-founder of the Architect Marketing Institute. He helps architects become category leaders in their market. Enoch hosts the #1 rated interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show where prominent guests like M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Thom Mayne share tips and strategies for success in architecture.


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