Milstein Hall: Dome Performance

Cornell’s new Milstein Hall, recently added onto the existing Sibley hall–extending the space and capabilities of the Art, Architechture, and Planning (AAP) facilities at Cornell–presented an interesting new space for performance. In particular, the concrete dome (part of the building’s “lower plate”) under the main passageway from the arts quad entrance seemed ripe for experimentation. In addition to its odd shape and acoustics, it represents a unique semi-public space on campus, one where sound is localized to the performance and yet travels outward, drawing in listeners.

CAGE gave the premiere performance in the dome, performing there even before the building was officially opened.

“Milstein Hall’s 47,000-square-feet weaves its definitively contemporary architecture through the college’s historic buildings, creating a dynamic landscape and a vibrant central meeting place that lends itself to collaboration.

Milstein Hall promotes innovative ways of teaching and serves the daily activities of the studio environment — a blend of physical and digital creative work. Physically, Milstein Hall is a connector between a unique site and existing conditions. In form and materiality, it is a building of its own time.

The design includes an elevated second floor that provides much-needed flexible contiguous studio space and connections to Sibley and Rand halls. The structure is artfully cantilevered on the north side and southeast corner with the space underneath left open to form a pedestrian plaza that provides outdoor gathering and exhibition space protected from the elements, and a sheltered pedestrian connection to the sculpture studios located in the Foundry. A concrete dome in the center provides the incline for the auditorium seating, supports a generous, inviting stair to the second floor studio space, and creates a ceiling for the critique space below. Existing site circulation patterns at ground level are maintained and enhanced by this openness. In the sub-basement underneath the plaza there is an auditorium, exhibition space, and critique area.” — from the AAP description of the new hall