The School of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY is located in the nine-story Veterinary Research Tower (VRT) on campus. Built in 1971, the tower provides approximately 127,000 sq ft of space, housing researchers, professors, students, and staff in support of the school’s teaching and research mission. This building had reached a point where its original MEP systems, spatial infrastructure, and envelope were either deteriorating or unable to meet the evolving functional demands of a premier science and education institution. The goal for the University was to upgrade the VRT so that it may continue to serve the faculty and students of Cornell’s Veterinary Research School for another 30 - 50 years.
Erdman Anthony was selected as a member of a design team by the University to provide mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and plumbing design services for this renovation and the infrastructure upgrades to this important campus facility. The project scope included the complete replacement of the existing HVAC and exhaust systems, instrumentation and control systems, upgrading the 208V electrical service to 480V, replacing the electrical power distribution, lighting, and fire alarm systems, upgrading selected plumbing systems, replacing the existing fire pump, and a full sprinkler system throughout the entire building. These modifications were to be made in conjunction with the architectural renovation of five floors, replacement of the existing curtain wall along with accessibility and life safety upgrades. The interior renovations would, as required by the University, integrate building systems while also enhancing collaboration and interaction of faculty, staff and students.
The Veterinary Research Tower was planned to meet the United States Green Building Council’s standards for LEED Silver certification. Significant energy performance improvements, of more than 40% better than the minimum established by ASHRAE 90.1 standard, were projected through the replacement of the curtain wall/glazing, heat recovery from exhaust systems, reduced air change rates, the use of chilled beam technology, improved HVAC control methodology, lighting/daylighting controls, and roof replacement.
Requirements of the University that the building remain occupied and operational during construction were incorporated into the renovation design. Relocations would have been limited to a floor by floor renovation sequencing scheme, divided over two phases due to funding restrictions. The project team completed the schematic design phase when the economy caused funding limitations and the project was cancelled.