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Cornell University builds massive student housing complex to accommodate planned enrollment growth

Student Housing

Cornell University builds massive student housing complex to accommodate planned enrollment growth

Designed by ikon.5 architects, the 2,000-bed project includes a 1,000-seat dining hall.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | December 7, 2022
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A view of the new North Campus Residential Expansion (NCRE) project. All photos courtesy ikon.5 architects

In Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University has completed its North Campus Residential Expansion (NCRE) project. Designed by ikon.5 architects, the 776,000-sf project provides 1,200 beds for first-year students and 800 beds for sophomore students. 

The NCRE project aimed to accommodate the university’s planned growth in student enrollment while meeting its green infrastructure standards. Cornell University plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

On two separate adjacent sites on Cornell’s North Campus, NCRE includes residential rooms, a dining hall, and collaborative study and learning spaces. The residences are located in three- to five-story buildings that are organized around outdoor courtyards, encouraging social interaction and engagement with the adjacent campus. A highly transparent ground floor also promotes interaction with the entire community. 

To further enhance the student experience, a 1,000-seat dining hall offers a variety of micro-restaurants, including 11 food platforms and four hydration stations. The dining hall also has an interactive food lab with 24 teaching stations for both dining and academic classes.

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In addition, a 5,200-sf fitness center focuses on Olympic lifting equipment and features the university’s largest collection of cardio equipment.

Red and gray terracotta masonry walls with punched windows complement the neighboring North Campus buildings, acting as modern reinterpretations of the existing residential facilities. At the building ends and corners, upper-level residential lounges are wrapped in a curtainwall, providing views of the campus and serving as visual beacons. 


RELATED: Developer Fred Pierce discusses the latest trends and innovations in student housing facilities


With NCRE, Cornell says it now has enough housing for all first-year students and sophomores to live on campus or in affiliated housing.

On the Building Team:
Owner and/or developer: Cornell University 
Design architect: ikon.5 architects 
Architect of record: ikon.5 architects 
MEP engineer: WSP
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
General contractor/construction manager: Welliver

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