Each of our team members takes a great personal interest in the culture and traditions of the organizations and institutions with which they work. By immersing ourselves in an institution’s culture and engaging with our client representatives, the optimal design solutions are achieved. This approach assures that every Chiang | O’Brien project achieves the specific goals and aspirations for each institution and organization.
Cornell Health is a full renovation of an existing building with a complementary addition designed to relieve the programmatic pressures and overcrowded conditions for staff and patients at Cornell University. The final design solution allowed the new Cornell Health facility to remain in its central location and fully operational through the construction duration by implementing the construction in phases. The prominence of the site at the south end of Ho Plaza, one of the main entrances to campus, required a thoughtful and respectful solution in its massing and materiality approach. Rather than dominating the corner, the building pulls back in order to preserve the public space at the prominent corner intersection. The building envelope is a modern response to the existing bluestone clad structures adjacent to the site. The new Cornell Health building rises above from a heavy bluestone base and transitions into a curtain wall of transparent glass and glass shadowboxes with metal composite panels that imitates the character, coloration, and pattern of the native bluestone. Vertical and horizontal sun-shading elements respond to the environmental conditions as the building curves from south to west and provides depth and shadow to the glass envelope. The building’s physical appearance has been completely transformed, and the new facilities greatly enhances the university’s ability to provide the highest level of care.
Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to create a new hub in Kennedy Hall to advance Cornell University’s mission of community-engaged discovery and learning. The initiative involved nine groups, including Engaged Cornell, Engaged Learning + Research, and the Public Service Center, and required a thoughtful navigation of the diverse politics, viewpoints, and user needs of each group, who were moving from nine distinct locations to create the newly formed Engaged Cornell initiative. Worth noting was the involvement of the nine user groups in an inclusive, community-input meeting coordinated by the design team whereby various iterations of building plan layouts were explored through a participatory-design process. As a result, the final design solution eliminated costly redundancies including a completely enclosed interior core zone and the majority of private offices. The space was transformed into an open-office environment with private, shared, and collaborative huddle-rooms interspersed throughout. The conversion introduced natural light, which benefits every occupant, and flexibility with multiple, shared spaces and support areas. At the entrance, a “living room” with comfortable furniture provides opportunities for multi-media presentations attracting both students and visitors. The resulting collocated space offers collective resources, fosters collaboration among engagement units, and provides students, community partners, and the campus with a supportive experience and central meeting place.
Chiang | O’Brien was selected to renovate the Albert W. Brown Building for the Academic Success Center (ASC), a coalition of programs currently located in four separate buildings. This project established a single, central location for academic counseling, advisement, tutoring services, and access to programs in an environment that helps students to thrive. The building is sited at one of the campus’ main crossroads—perfectly positioned to draw pedestrians from both the newly created east-west promenade and the footbridge which serves as the main north-south connection. The new entrances and diagonal movement in the plan layout encourage student traffic into and through the space in order to showcase the work and services provided by the ASC. Open study nooks and views into glass enclosed classrooms, huddle, and study areas are on either side of the interior corridor. Large expanses of interior glass storefront promote an open, collaborative environment, and a sliding glass wall enclosing one of the main tutoring study spaces allows for additional flexibility. New windows, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems as well as a completely new palette of finishes including paint, ceilings, flooring, and doors with transom lights renew the entire building.
With a focus on health and wellness services, Hamilton College selected Chiang | O’Brien Architects to design a functional space that addressed the growing demand for more integrated physical and mental health services from a single facility. Project-team-guided discussions with the client led to the development of a feasibility study with numerous options. Ultimately, the college proceeded with the design of a new, stand-alone facility located in central campus, straddling the largely bluestone-clad historic buildings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the more recent agrarian and contemporary architectural structures. The building’s massing and materials—steeply-pitched roofs, stone cladding, and vertical wood siding—create a dialogue that reflects the surrounding architectural context. The building is comprised of a shared waiting room, reception, and conference/staff room that serves both the clinical suite on the first floor and counseling offices, group rooms, sun room, and biofeedback space on the second floor. Within the clinical suite are staff offices, exam rooms, nurse station, medication room, and lab, and in close proximity, there is space for the student run EMT service. The project also included a new campus green space in the existing student services village.
When the Language Resource Center (LRC), a unit of the College of Arts and Sciences that supports language teaching and learning, was relocated to the historic Stimson Hall, Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to design the renovation. A major goal of the design was to convert the gloomy basement space into an inviting and exciting place for student engagement and learning. The move placed the LRC in a more central campus location, but the project faced significant challenges, including a 33 percent reduction of assignable space; wall and ceiling plaster that contained asbestos; very limited opportunities for natural light in the basement; available space located at opposite ends of a long corridor; and incongruent floor plates which was a challenge for accessibility. Chiang | O’Brien developed a program comprised of four spatial types: a language laboratory, videoconferencing classrooms, administrative offices, and a recording studio. The design strategy minimized alteration of the historic structure and introduced transparency to create a feeling of openness and optimize natural light. In addition to the reconfiguration of space, the scope included distance learning and videoconferencing audiovisual equipment, furnishings, HVAC distribution systems, integrated digital control systems, and LED lighting throughout.
Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to design a new building at SUNY Oneonta to house the campus and text bookstores and offices for auxiliary services staff and other providers. Tucked into a hillside adjacent to the student union center, the twenty thousand square foot building is clad in the contextual Oneonta red brick and complemented by Indiana limestone panels and trim. Pitched roofs framed with glue-laminated timber trusses form clerestories and dormers that flood the interior spaces with natural daylight. The building transitions to a terraced green roof with direct access from the second floor that provides essential visual interest for the office spaces on the second floor—a foreground view of the sedum roofscape and views of the athletic fields beyond. Environmental benefits of the green roof include reduction of heat island effects, reduction of stormwater run-off, and increased life of the roof due to reduced exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Constructed in 1964 as the industrial arts building, Wilber Hall is undergoing a renovation in the third and final phase of additions and alterations to support the School of Education facilities. Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to complete the full interior renovation of the basement, second, and third floors in order to accommodate new classrooms, offices, and a collaborative space for the curriculum department and counseling services. The renovation also includes new roofing, new windows, masonry repairs to the brickwork, thermal improvements to the envelope, abatement of hazardous materials, and complete replacement of the MEP systems for the entire building. Chiang | O’Brien began the project by providing program verification of a space study, which had been created several years prior, to reflect changes in the program and pedagogy. Once the program was verified and consensus reached, concept diagrams explored both building plan and section relationships of the program elements with the goal to maximize adjacencies and minimize the artificial boundaries that can be created by floor separations. The final solution included the insertion of a new vertical atrium space connecting programs visually and allowing natural light to enter the underground lowest level of the building.
As was common in the early 1900s, Carnegie Library was built with closed stacks where books were retrieved by library pages. In 1965, the stacks were opened to browsing, and renovations were made in 1972 to accommodate the mathematics department and science library. The renovations of the historic building include the relocation and consolidation of faculty offices, collaborative work spaces, classrooms, seminar rooms, and a complete renovation and expansion of the toilet facilities throughout the building. In addition, design and documents were completed for the next phase, which will restore the historic, self-supporting, glass-floored book stacks behind the main circulation desk. The project moves student-centric spaces to the lower floors and faculty and tutoring spaces to the upper floors, completing the multi-phase rehabilitation of a magnificent structure back to its former glory.
Ithaca College’s Robert B. Tallman Rowing Center on Cayuga Inlet, pays homage to the club and collegiate structures of the Schuylkill and Charles Rivers which were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Essentially a storage building, the design follows the forms seen in historic waterfront structures and rural vernacular of Upstate New York. The building makes an iconic statement as it responds to the modest existing architectural context that surrounds it. Resting on a base of native bluestone, the Rowing Center is a long, low, cedar-clad building with a hipped roof that evokes the graceful curves of oars and racing shells. The roof’s broad overhang is in contrast against the sweeping arc of the eyebrow dormer on the mezzanine level, where a balcony overlooks Cayuga Inlet and affords views across the channel racecourse. Inside, the building is largely open, with steel tube columns and heavy timber beams expressing the massive roof structure. Natural white maple wood trim throughout creates a modern, airy atmosphere. The design team worked closely with the rowing coaches to create a building that would inspire student athletes in the rowing program as well as support the functional requirements for boat storage, maintenance, and athlete training activities.
Zabriskie Hall is a beautiful, early twentieth-century structure that was completely transformed through a comprehensive renovation by Chiang | O’Brien Architects. This twenty-five thousand square foot building is a jewel on the Wells College campus, and when the interior finishes and fittings were stripped away after years of service, the beautiful bones of the building were revealed. High ceilings, classically symmetrical layout, and original architectural details were enhanced through the thoughtful insertion of fresh elements that complement the historic qualities of the building. The revitalization turned Zabriskie into a showcase building standing at the gateway to the campus and serving as the starting point for admissions staff to begin tours for prospective students. The college store, café, and a tiered lecture hall on the entry level create a compelling introduction to the campus while the Center for Business and Institute for Sustainability serve as academic anchors. The design transformed a tired building into a functional and modern space that meets the expectations of today’s sophisticated Wells student.
The flagship of the Cornell University library system, the John M. Olin Library houses a two-million print volume collection and the central administrative services for the library system. Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to design and implement a renovation of the second-floor space, which formerly served as stack space, required the consolidation of scattered administrative support offices into a single location adjacent to the main administrative offices. The newly created offices on the second-floor provide space for the return of public study and research areas to graduate students on the west end of the fifth-floor. The new reading areas include two large reading rooms with tables and soft seating, a group study room, two smaller reading areas, two breakout rooms for small study groups, lockers, a computer area, and a print/copy room for exclusive use by graduate students and faculty. The fifth-floor collections housed in this suite focus on the social sciences and humanities.
As part of the college’s quest to improve the core academic program, expansion of the science program is a critical component. Renovations of two largely underutilized and antiquated undergraduate labs for Biology and Chemistry provide the college with safe and modern facilities to expand these programs. The fully renovated labs accommodate a range of wet and dry lab activities. Modern day teaching walls, a new layout and lab benches that accommodate current day teaching pedagogy, and HVAC systems all support these pursuits. The design team provided planning services and early concepts, construction and project budgets, and materials for fundraising efforts targeted at both individuals and foundations to assist the campus.
Originally designed as the college library in the early years of the 20th century, Christian A. Johnson Hall was last renovated in the 1980s, and while the inherently solid structure of the historic building was preserved, much of the original interior architectural details were obscured. When Chiang | O’Brien Architects was selected to renovate the structure in 2012, the relocation of the main college art gallery allowed for the reorganization of the existing academic programs in the building—the mathematics and language departments were dispersed in the building, neither having a clear physical identity. After an in-depth programming and planning process, the resulting reorganization of functions throughout the building allowed all classrooms, faculty and staff offices, as well as special academic programs to be improved. The highlight of the project is a large student study space that creates a comfortable individual and group study environment, which is surrounded by math faculty offices. The renovation for the math department, initially intended as a temporary solution, was declared a great success, and they are planning to stay—the space is now used by students from all areas of study.
Citrus TV and WJPZ Z89 Radio stations both had the opportunity to expand when the convenience store, wedged in a space between them, closed its operations. Support from the University Chancellor propelled this project to a high priority status. Completed on a fast paced schedule, renovations included improvements to the acoustical environment and a reorganization of studios which created a better flow and space for long needed support functions. New editing rooms, control rooms, and studios along with office and lounge space provide enhanced facilities. The Z89 Radio Studio was relocated to be adjacent to the main public corridor, allowing visual interaction between the on-air radio personality and the passer by.
The new building for Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes’ Clinical and Administrative offices in Ithaca plans reflects the high quality of healthcare provided by the organization. After years of examining the feasibility of potential available sites as well as buildings for possible renovation potential, it was determined that a new 18,000 SF two-story facility was the most appropriate solution. The new building houses an 8,500 SF clinic on the ground floor with secure and private access to the facility from a patient parking lot on the property. Support spaces for the clinical staff and administrative offices and a large conference space to support their extensive community outreach education programs consolidate all these functions in one location.
The renovation for Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes’ Clinical and Administrative offices in Corning reflects the high quality of health care provided by the organization. An exterior renovation of the facade gives a refreshed appearance to the existing structure.
The Restroom Upgrade for Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus involved gutting the existing, inadequate restroom configuration and providing separate facilities for men, women, and families. Since “Hendricks Chapel is the diverse religious, spiritual, ethical, and cultural heart of Syracuse University,” it was important to address various ritual washing requirements. Wudus were incorporated in the men’s and women’s rooms for Muslim ablutions before daily prayer. A new vestibule and new finishes in the hallway complete the rehabilitation efforts of these sophisticated facilities.
The Crescent Building was originally designed as a silent movie theatre by Bigg and Waltz at the height of the local film industry in the early 1900s and is the oldest remaining former movie house in Ithaca. In 1931, the theatre was converted to the Crescent Dance Hall, and after numerous iterations, it was acquired by Chiang | O’Brien Architects. The space has since been significantly renovated by reclaiming the large theater space for presentations, events, and client and staff meetings. Chiang | O’Brien operates their studio from the second floor of the building today.