Center for Birds and Biodiversity | Cornell University -- Ithaca, New York

90,000 SF | bio-acoustics labs | technical chemistry labs | library | orientation theater | administrative offices | nature observatory | bird feeding garden
The principal challenge of this project was locating a large academic building for scientific research—and its necessary parking—within the sensitive wetlands of Sapsucker Woods, a nature preserve that serves as an important stop for many migratory northern hemisphere birds, in a way that promotes scholarship while also serving as a good neighbor. Inspired by birds in flight, fish in the water, and the natural surroundings, the building provides a scientific research center, a study center, a visitors center, a nature center, a natural museum, a nature preserve and sanctuary for the world renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Expanses of windows rise and fall with the sloping roofs, affording views and vistas to the natural and delicately constructed landscape. Stormwater is retained and released gradually into the pond to protect against floods. To maintain the natural routes of amphibians, reptiles, and endangered species from the wetlands to the pond—established long before the building’s arrival—the Center is designed to provide external pathways for them to travel unimpeded.