Imogene Powers Johnson Center
for Birds & Biodiversity

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Project Details

Completed 2003
90,000 sf
$28 million

RMJM Hillier

The design team took great care to design a structure that complements the existing landscape and coexists harmoniously with the ecosystems of Sapsucker Woods. The 2-story steel-frame structure with caisson foundation system replaced the existing lab for the observation and study of birds and is on a wetland site. It is constructed of cedar wood and locally quarried Llenroc stone.

At 90,000 square feet, the new lab building is five times the size of the original building and allows room for continued growth. The new building facilitates bird study, allowing easier integration of the lab’s current programs. The building includes the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, the world’s largest collection of natural sounds containing 130,000 sound recordings covering 5,600 bird species, a DNA sequencing lab and an exhibit of Louis Agassiz Fuertes’ wildlife paintings.

Structural features include:

  • Dedicated research space for scientists
  • Two-story observation tower with panoramic views of the pond and sanctuary
  • Curved glass windows