Skip directly to main navigation | secondary navigation | main content

Klarman Hall

Cornell University Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts at Cornell University

Klarman Hall

Since 1905, the humanities at Cornell have had their home in Goldwin Smith Hall.  But today many departments are facing a severe shortage of workspaces and classrooms. So for the first time in over 100 years, a new humanities building will be built at Cornell.

Located between Goldwin Smith Hall and East Avenue, the new building's central atrium will serve as a major crossroads for students and faculty from all over campus.  The new, environmentally-friendly  building will be a dominant presence on East Avenue, the main north-south connector for undergraduate students on campus.

This spectacular building will symbolically and physically welcome the rest of the campus to participate in the humanities and arts at Cornell.

Night view of Klarman Hall

The transparent glass façade allows views into the new atrium space from Physical Sciences Building, Rockefeller Hall, the East Slope Lawn across East Avenue, and by those walking along East Avenue.


The building's East Avenue frontage makes it highly visible and accentuates its role in connecting the Arts Quad to East Avenue, East slope and the Cornell East Campus.


The atrium is covered by a glass roof and an environmental sunshade, which are both being designed to provide optimal daylight and energy performance throughout the year.

View along East AVenue

The external promenade along East Avenue, offers gathering spaces and a view into the interior courtyard. Stairways on either end provide outdoor access to the Arts Quad.

Living roof and terrace

Klarman Hall’s living roof will create an elevated garden atmosphere for those using the outdoor tables, reduce stormwater run-off, and minimize the heating and cooling loads of the building.

Living roof and terrace

This view from the north end of Klarman Hall toward East Avenue shows the living roof and terrace atop the ground-floor auditorium, which are bordered by the glass-enclosed first floor hallway.

33,250 square feet of new assignable space, bigger than Morrill Hall
Largest auditorium on the Arts Quad: 330-350 seats
Planned to be LEED Platinum certified
First new humanities building in over 100 years
Larger cafe in better location
7,700 square foot sunlit atrium

More Information

Giving Opportunities

The new building will benefit the entire college, with the large auditorium available for classes and lectures across the arts, humanities and sciences, and the new atrium offering a year-round gathering space for the community. We invite you to be a part of this new icon that will soon rise at the heart of the college.

Please contact David Whitmore for information about naming opportunities and other ways to contribute to Klarman Hall; 607-255-8478 or

Cutting-edge Environmental Technologies

  • Occupancy and daylight sensors to reduce the demand for electric lighting
  • Extensive green roof systems on top of the office blocks to reduce heating and cooling needs
  • High performance glazing and optimized shading over the atrium to reduce solar heat gain
  • Light wells to allow daylight to penetrate the office block interior
  • A heat recovery unit to recapture heat energy from the return air system in the offices
  • A radiant floor system in the atrium to provide heat
  • Variable air volume (VAV) technology to provide energy efficient ventilation
  • Chilled water from the campus' lake source cooling system to reduce cooling requirements
  • Chilled beams to provide energy efficient heating and cooling to the offices

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is the building design so modern?

Accepted historic preservation guidelines mandate that new work be differentiated from old. As a United Nations memo details, "contemporary architecture and preservation of the historic urban landscape should avoid all forms of pseudo-historical design, as they constitute a denial of both the historical and the contemporary alike. One historical view should not supplant others, as history must remain readable, while continuity of culture through quality interventions is the ultimate goal."

The transparent design of Klarman Hall allows it to honor Goldwin Smith Hall while clearly being of its own historical period. As noted architectural critic Paul Goldberger has said, the design engages Goldwin Smith "in an appropriate formal dialogue" that does not mimic or confuse the original ordering principles of the building, thus successfully meeting the standard for historic preservation.

Q: What effect will the building have on the Arts Quad?

A: Klarman Hall will provide access to the Arts Quad without being visible from the Arts Quad. It will be located behind Goldwin Smith on East Avenue, with a roof lower than Goldwin Smith's, an architectural solution that respects the beauty of both Goldwin Smith and the Arts Quad.

Q: Will there be access between Goldwin Smith and the building?

A: Yes, on the ground, first, and second floors.

Q: Will there be a place to eat in Klarman Hall?

A: A large café will be housed in the lower level of the rotunda of Goldwin Smith, where Career Services and Advising are now located. The rotunda will be modified to open into the atrium in Klarman Hall. This new café location will have expanded seating and a barista serving espresso, lattes, and more..

Q: How big will Klarman Hall be?

A: The building is estimated at 66,500 square feet; the 33,250 net area includes a 7,700 square foot atrium. In comparison, Morrill Hall has a net area of 32,176 square feet.

Q: Who will move into Klarman Hall?

A: The best arrangement is still being explored. However, it is definite that the Department of Romance Studies will move, in order to bring all the European literature departments into one building.

Q: Will there be new offices or classrooms?

A: The building includes approximately 124 spaces the size of a faculty office. These spaces are organized in groups of three to align with the structural grid of the building and to allow flexibility in converting spaces from one use to another. These modules could include single faculty offices or could be combined to provide department offices, meeting rooms or conference rooms.

Q: Will there be anywhere to sit outside?

A: On the south side, a ground-level courtyard will feature seating and a walkway and serve as a gathering spot for quiet outdoor study. On the east side, an exterior promenade will run the entire length of the building, providing extensive tree-lined walking and gathering space. On the north side, a green walkway with a small seating area will provide an entrance to the building.

Q: When will construction begin?

A: The target date to begin construction is summer of 2013.

Q: When will the building be completed?

A: The target completion date is by the end of 2015.

Q: How will the building be paid for?

A: The project is being funded through philanthropy.

Klarman Hall Groundbreaking Ceremony, 23 May 2013
By Joanie Mackowski

"The extension of [the Proto-Indo-European word for earth] to denote human beings has been variously explained as 'human' [deriving from] 'being who lives on the earth'…"
--J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, "Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture"

Rejoice! We lean into the shovel, for the earth gives. For humanity’s common ground yields more than human within us. For we earthlings sprouted from earth, from one humble adamahi, a sheath of loam
the sun cast off winding the spring of time.
Rejoice! We raise the roof on the threshold and in the center, rounding our west
full-circle to the east.
For we unite avocation and vocation as two eyes make one in sight; for this work
is play for mortal stakes.ii
For we lean into the shovel to lean on a shovel or lean on an elbow or
back in a chair to consider more reciprocal easts and wests, leanings
and learnings, earthlings, starlings, us and vast.
For we’ve the confidence to welcome uncertainty’s principled and ductile
evergreen horizon, and we build a stately mansion for our oversoul,iii
and our undersoul and inter- and intrasoul: we plant soul's
kernel in this soil.
Rejoice! We stand the ground of peace. To live in a glass house, we let go
the stone; we ply our bones and brains to intangible structures.
For we build a temple for contemplation, with a green roof: for good
is as visible as greeniv, and we strike the earth
To stand in the clear of Klarman Hall, a translucent clothing for sound
habits of mind.
Rejoice! In our room of windows we’ll entertain the sun. For the sun teaches us
to stretch beyond our reach, to be as guests in the lives of others.
For as all seedlings, we earthlings lean in to catch the sun’s drift, the news
of our primal generator. For generosity (rain or shine)
Gravitates us toward the light. Generosity shelters us with a vegetable roof
so we’re mindful of the ground and keeping the sky in proportion.

© 2013 Joanie Mackowski

i This is the Hebrew word in the Book of Genesis meaning "ground" or "earth,"" and which Adam is sifted from.

ii This is borrowed from Robert Frost. Frost's poem "Two Tramps in Mud Time" concludes,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

iii This paraphrases Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem "The Chambered Nautilus," which concludes,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
    As the swift seasons roll!
    Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
    Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!

iv "Good is as visible as green" is from John Donne's "Community."