Case Studies

Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine Classroom Expansion – Welliver

Capital project allows Cornell to increase enrollment

The Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is one of just 30 veterinary colleges in the country. Located at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the Veterinary Medical Center is currently made up of seven buildings covering some 15 acres.

These facilities include the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, research facilities and offices. While these buildings have served the college well up until this point, the school is now in the midst of an extensive capital project that will improve both the campuses’ capacity and overall appearance.

Working in collaboration with construction firm Welliver and New York City’s Weiss/Manfredi architecture firm, the renovation and new construction will see Cornell create new classroom space for expanded pre-clinical education, as well as renovations to its existing anatomy, tutorial and student surgery areas.

Welliver will also perform infrastructure upgrades to the three-story Schurman Hall, create a shared entrance between that building, the Veterinary Education Center and Veterinary Research Tower and adaptively reuse former diagnostics and necropsy suites.

A new home for CVM

The LEED-Gold certified project will be completed in two phases. The first, which wrapped up in January 2016, included the construction of tutorial/classroom space, demonstration areas and common spaces.

The second phase, which is currently underway, will center around façade improvements to the nine-story Veterinary Research Tower and the renovation and repurposing of existing facilities, including the demolition of three buildings and the construction of a new library, public gallery, lecture halls, kitchen and classroom space.

“Work on the Veterinary Research Tower has been going pretty well. The façade demolition was difficult, but it went pretty well and the temporary walls are holding up,” says Matt Schamel, project manager at Welliver, who notes that the buildings on the other side of the temporary wall have remained occupied throughout the process.

Working with an estimated budget of $52 million, the capital project will result in the demolition of 60,000 square feet, replacement of 65,000 square feet and renovation of 33,000 square feet

The new, larger campus will allow the school to boost admission to the program by making room for an additional 150 students in the CVM’s doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

At home on campus

Demolition of the three existing buildings and renovation of the nine-story façade ranks among of more difficult elements of the project, according to Schamel. “The buildings that we’re taking down are connected to occupied buildings on either side, and the building with the façade that we’re taking down is also 100 percent occupied,” Schamel says.

Welliver has completed a number of projects on the Cornell University campus throughout the years, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Hall, Klarman Hall Humanities Building and Paul Milstein Hall. Given this long-standing relationship and familiarity with the campus, the Welliver team was able to navigate the cramped site and occupied buildings thanks to a focus on project logistics that included the use of strategic laydown areas and just-in-time delivery methods.

Familiarity with the site was also especially important when it came to selecting subcontractors to work alongside Welliver on the job site. “Especially up here at Cornell working in existing buildings it’s important to have subcontractors, especially mechanical and electric subcontractors, who know the site and have a history of working here,” says Schamel.

New challenges

Welliver is aiming for LEED-Gold certification on the project, and has included a number of energy-saving features. The construction company has also worked to divert construction debris from the landfill to approved recycling programs, lessening the environmental impact of the renovation and expansion process.

The construction company self-performed the concrete package and millwork installation on the job, which Schamel describes as one of the more difficult aspects of the entire project. “The exterior walls were also a challenge because there are seven different curtainwall systems and they’re pretty intricate,” he says.

Welliver relied on time-tested subcontractors for some of the most vital scopes of works such as mechanical and electrical, but opted to use a relatively new curtainwall subcontractor for work in the VRT.

While many aspects of the job were old hat for the experienced construction team at Welliver, the project did include a number of unique design elements which Schamel has never before encountered, including an array of 3D panels. “They have these fins articulating from them, and as the fins go up the wall, they turn on an angle as well,” says Schamel.

Welliver works across a broad range of industries, but Schamel says that health care and higher education projects like the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine classroom expansion rank among some of his favorites. “I just like the challenge,” he says.

Thanks to trusted industry partner Welliver, the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine classroom expansion with allow the Ivy League school top expand its pre-clinical veterinary education and better prepare veterinary medicine professionals to serve their four-legged patients across the country.

Published on: November 21, 2016


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