Bailey Plaza at Cornell University
For years, Bailey Hall—a neoclassical building containing a concert hall (which doubles as Cornell’s largest classroom)—opened onto an unsightly parking lot. MVVA reimagined the one-acre lot as a plaza both lush enough to join a new greenway running diagonally across the campus and open enough to welcome a variety of student gatherings.
Underfoot, thousands of uniform bluestone pavers form a smooth surface intersected by swaths of rougher, more variegated stone. Those patches, which reflect pedestrians’ “desire lines,” form passages through the dense plantings surrounding the plaza to the radiating web of paths and street crossings beyond.
The plaza paving is made from two different local types of bluestone, providing a contemporary counterpoint to Bailey Hall's neoclassical detailing.
Opposite Bailey’s front steps, a stacked bluestone slab rises out of the ground to form a fountain that recalls Ithaca’s dramatic topography. Benches hewn from pine trees provide ample and appropriately rustic seating. Stormwater is collected on site and used for irrigation of the perimeter vegetation, which includes red maples and red-twigged dogwoods that provide flashes of Cornell’s signature color in every season. Bailey Plaza is an experientially rich, sustainably managed new focal point of Cornell’s campus.