How the Crit Room and Room 261 E. Sibley got their exits

As Milstein Hall — part of Cornell University’s growing collection of buildings by Pritzker Laureates* — continues to crumble, crack, delaminate, effloresce, and otherwise betray its designers’ indifference to the actual matter** of building, Cornell is slowly addressing some fire safety problems that were an integral part of Milstein’s design legacy. Below are two videos that explain how the Crit Room in Milstein Hall and Room 261 in adjacent Sibley Hall got their second fire exits.

*Cornell’s collection of buildings by Pritzker Laureates includes — in order of appearance — Gordon Bunshaft’s Uris Hall, I.M. Pei’s Johnson Museum, James Sirling’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Richard Meier’s Weill Hall, Rem Koolhaas’s Milstein Hall, and Thom Mayne’s Gates Hall.

** I use the term “matter” in the following sense: “We consider that an Edifice is a Kind of Body consisting, like all other Bodies, of Design and of Matter; the first is produced by the Thought, the other by Nature; so that the one is to be provided by the Application and Contrivance of the Mind, and the other by due Preparation and Choice. And we further reflected, that neither the one nor the other of itself was sufficient, without the Hand of an experienced Artificer, that knew how to form his Materials after a just Design.” From the preface to Alberti’s On the Art of Building, printed by Edward Owen, London, in 1755 (a translation of the original text from 1485) and accessed online 3/15/15.

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