Cornell University
Energy Recovery Linear Accelerator Lab
and Cryogenic Plant
Ithaca, NY

250,000 SF • In association with Arup • LEED SILVER (TARGET)

Davis Brody Bond collaborated with Arup on the design of this 250,000 sf research lab and cryoplant for Cornell University. In response to the steeply-sloped site, the building design is a cascade of volumes worked into the landscape. The lowest level is a vast physics workshop that engages the existing Cornell Electron Storage Ring and will house the new Energy Recovery Linear Accelerator and X-ray experiment facilities. Upper levels step back to create narrower floorplates for daylit laboratories, offices, and conference facilities. The adjacent cryoplant houses supercooled liquids in an underground vault. Its surface-level cooling towers and electric substation are concealed in a sculpted topography inspired by contemporary landscape art.

We developed the program and design in workshops with faculty, graduate students, and the campus facilities group. This collaboration was essential to a mutual understanding of scientific, scope, and architectural issues. The building’s curved plan follows both the route of the Linear Accelerator and the arc of the hillside. Integration of architecture, program, and site is a key design strategy. Roof courtyards, views of the wetlands to the south, and daylight throughout reinforce the connection with nature. The lab and cryoplant’s green roofs and landscaped terraces preserve the greenbelt mandated by Cornell’s campus plan, and their low profile maintains vistas from the Campus Road.

All facilities are slated for a minimum LEED Silver certification. Stormwater management was a particular environmental consideration: the southern area of the site is the lowest point of the campus watershed and in the 100-year flood plain of nearby Cascadilla Creek.