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Structures of life: Ever more complex buildings are crucibles of ideas and innovation

Scene at Weill Hall dedication

From left, Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Meinig, President David Skorton, Joan Weill, Sandy Weill and architect Richard Meier attend the dedication of Weill Hall, Oct. 16.


Rick Cerione on the creation of the Weill Institute

It began as an "intellectual exercise," says Rick Cerione, who chaired the committee that developed the concept for the Weill Institute that is now bridging research at Weill Hall with studies across campus.Read more

Architect Richard Meier '56 speaks about Weill Hall

Renowned architect and alum Richard Meier discusses how his designs bring people together.Read more

A visionary building becomes a reality through the vision of its leading donors

Weill Hall is here because Cornell had help -- lots of it -- from individual philanthropists and the state of New York.Read more

Small business, big potential: New incubator will bring technology to life

New business incubator will help bring Weill Hall's technology, and the companies developed by Cornell life scientists, to reality.Read more

For Weill Hall researchers, collaboration between Ithaca, NYC is essential

Weill Hall is designed for big-picture scientists who know that collaboration, in particular between Ithaca and New York City, is essential.Read more

By going green, Weill Hall meets the gold standard

Weill Hall has become one of only six university laboratory buildings to be gold certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.Read more

Weill Hall by the numbers

A collection of facts, statistics and trivia about the construction of Weill Hall.Read more


See video interviews with Joan and Sanford Weill and Scott Emr, director of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology.Go

An exploded view lifts the lid on Weill Hall.Go

Designers and faculty planners at Cornell University's Ithaca campus have created the intellectual crucible that was once the stuff of life scientists' dreams: a state-of-the-art facility with open, overlapping laboratory areas, light-filled rooms and hallways, a commanding atrium and a high-tech audiovisual facility for presentations and long-distance videoconferencing. And to encourage conversations that could lead to new ideas and collaborations, parts of various departments are strategically located near each other.

Completion of architect Richard Meier's life sciences building, Weill Hall -- which had its official opening Oct. 16 -- marks a giant leap toward advancing Cornell's leadership nationally and internationally in the biological sciences revolution. And it will be well positioned to be at the center of a fertile era of research breakthroughs. As researcher Scott Emr observes, "The next 10 years will be an awesome period of discovery in the biomedical sciences."

Emr is the director of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, a key occupant in the $162 million, 265,000-square-foot building. "The space is wonderful," he said. "It's open, it's bright and it's very conducive to collaboration" with its large, open labs.

The building is also a key component of Cornell's four-building commitment to research -- the others are Duffield Hall (opened in 2004), the East Campus Research Facility (opened in 2007) and the Physical Sciences Building, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Cornell is far from alone in building modern collaborative research facilities to not only advance scientific research, but also to attract and retain top faculty researchers and their research programs. Weill Hall is now among the largest research facilities in New York state, but it is one of numerous new structures that have gone up on college campuses across the nation in the past few years. The word is out, it seems, that big science and its promise of major breakthroughs in health, energy and the basic building blocks of matter require big and bigger buildings.

"Many top universities have launched new initiatives in the life sciences to enhance their efforts in these important areas of research," Emr said. "Beautiful new buildings, top-notch facilities and financial resources have been used to establish and enhance basic science research programs."

Among the most notable: The $230 million Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan; the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University; the Anlyan Center for Medical Research, the largest building ever at Yale School of Medicine; the $150 million James H. Clark Center at Stanford University; the Leichtag Biomedical Research building at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center; and planned for 2011 is the $145 million Genome Science Laboratory Building at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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