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Cornell College Thomas Commons Student Center

KSS Architects

Shared By



600 1st St SW



Cornell College


  • KSS Architects
  • OPN Architects


  • Civil Engineer: Shive Hattery
  • Structural Engineer: M2B
  • Mechanical Engineer: Shive Hattery
  • Electrical Engineer: Shive Hattery
  • Plumbing Engineer: Shive Hattery

Project Status


Year Completed



7,500 sq. feet

Certifications and Designations

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Project Description

The addition and renovation to Thomas Commons bring sweeping changes to Cornell’s student center, adding a welcoming entrance, lobby, and glass-enclosed marketplace dining addition. Located along the campus walk, the new Commons creates outdoor spaces which frame the beautiful campus landscape and support the ebb and flow of student life. A new façade to the 1966 building adds vibrancy and blends with Cornell’s historic campus and architecture. In refining the building’s image and identity, the project creates a front door to the college, embodying its cultural and architectural heritage and providing a showcase of campus life and achievements.

The existing Commons’ flat roofline is tempered by a pitched roof on the new additions. Large areas of glass fill the building with natural light and break down barriers so students can “see and be seen.” The modern dining and servery provide a greater variety of fresh food stations. The new open plan offers engaging views from the lobby through the marketplace to the valley beyond. An addition to the east along the campus walk increases dining and event space. The Orange Carpet, Cornell’s popular “living room” area, remains the building’s unique hub.

The project results in a striking building that meets the highest needs and goals, while leaving room for additional growth. Giving new life to the Thomas Commons fosters what has always been Cornell’s strength—its community.
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