Cornell University

Frequently Asked Questions

Find all of your answers about the North Campus Residential Expansion in the list below. 

Do you have additional questions about the project that are not answered here? Please email

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About NCRE
Why does Cornell need to build more residence halls for first-year and sophomore students?

Many students come to Cornell in part because it is a residential environment distinct from many of its Ivy League and private peers located in metropolitan areas. Providing students with developmentally appropriate housing during their formative college years leads to more enriched living-learning experiences, and better enables them to transition to college, build friendships and utilize resources that will help them be successful during their time at Cornell.

With the completion of the project, Cornell will have enough housing for all first-year students and sophomores to live on campus or in affiliated housing. This will relieve pressure many students feel to secure housing for the following year. In addition, the new residence halls will temporarily provide enough swing space to allow Cornell to address deferred maintenance in some of the university’s most iconic, historic residence halls.

How will the new residence halls make North Campus more suitable for first-year and sophomore students?

All new residence halls will be built within the existing residential community on North Campus. These will be designed as undergraduate communities, with their own social space amenities, to create engaging residential environments that maximize community building. The new buildings will help students build community with creative floor plans that enhance the residential experience through creating shared spaces that encourage collaboration.

Live-in, professional staff members will continue to provide students with community and program development, administrative management and support for their residence hall; and the new first-year student buildings will each have a Faculty-in-Residence who lives in the building and will help to foster academic and intellectual learning and personal development.

What is the timeline for the project?
  • Sophomore Site – approximately 800 student beds and a dining facility scheduled for occupancy fall semester 2021.
  • First-Year Student Site – approximately 1,200 student beds scheduled for occupancy fall semester 2022.
Will first-year and sophomore students be required to live on campus?

The university has announced plans to create a residency requirement that will stipulate that first-year and sophomore students live on campus or in affiliated housing (e.g. co-ops and Greek housing). It is anticipated that first-year students enrolling in fall 2021 will be the first class to have a two-year residency requirement. In the coming year, more details of the new policy will be developed.

How is the project linked to enrollment growth?

While addressing housing needs for our current and future students, we want to build in enough flexibility to accommodate a maximum undergraduate enrollment of 15,800 students. This enrollment growth is expected to happen gradually, being fully realized by fall semester 2024, pending the timeline of the NCRE. This projected increase is in response to requests from the academic leadership of the colleges and schools who are evaluating several new academic programs and shifts in existing majors. As noted above, all first-year and sophomore students will be required to live on campus once the new residence halls are built, so we must balance future enrollment growth with the availability of developmentally appropriate housing.

Where is the North Campus Residential Expansion project being built?

The project is being developed on two sites on North Campus, as shown in the image below. The sophomore year student site is highlighted in red near the top left corner south east of the crossroads of Triphammer Rd. and Jessup Rd. The first-year student site is highlighted in red near the bottom right corner north of Appel Commons.

Site map outlining where the NCRE developments will be built on north campus. Top left corner near Jessup Rd. and bottom right corner near Appel Commons and Cradit Farm Drive
How will the project affect the Ithaca rental market?

In 2018, there were 15,000 students living off campus in Tompkins County. This population strongly impacts the rental market, and specifically the Collegetown neighborhood. While additional residential housing options continue to come online in the City of Ithaca, helping to alleviate some pressure on the rental market, the vacancy rate remains well below average, leaving many Collegetown rentals already at or near capacity for next academic year.

Moving all first-year and sophomore students into Cornell affiliated housing during their most formative years is not only in the best interest of our students, but may also lead to more opportunities for graduate and professional students, staff, faculty and other local residents to move into housing closer to central campus, the City/Town of Ithaca and/or their place of employment.

Energy Impacts Overview
  • The project will require no new gas infrastructure for building heat, hot water, power, or cooling.
  • Modeled energy use is ~30% better than the latest State Energy Code standards. As a result of this exceptional energy performance, these buildings will require the equivalent of only about 1.4% of today’s total campus district energy (in the form of chilled water, hot water, and electricity) despite representing over 4% of Cornell’s utility-connected campus in terms of net square feet of building space. With continued campus-wide energy conservation and good energy stewardship supported by full-time staff, Cornell forecasts a continuation of its decades-long trend: overall reduction in total campus energy use by the time this project is completed and operating.
  • Approximately 180,000 square feet of rooftop space on the NCRE facilities is available to hold efficient, state-of-the art solar panels. There is potential to gather enough solar energy to offset the buildings’ electricity use by up to 35% and create about 1 megawatt of electricity annually. Read more about the recent North Campus rooftop solar agreement.
  • NCRE will connect to Cornell’s unique district energy systems (underground electric, chilled water, and steam/hot water piping systems that serve most of the Ithaca campus). These systems are anchored by Lake Source Cooling and Cornell’s Combined Heat and Power Plant. Using Cornell’s district systems further reduces the impact on the environment.
  • NCRE facilities are designed for low-temperature hydronic heat and tied into district heating and cooling systems. The facilities will be connected to current Cornell renewable energy systems (hydropower, Lake Source Cooling, and on-campus solar facilities) and can accommodate future renewable or low-carbon energy opportunities like Earth Source Heat, waste heat, biomass, solar thermal, renewable electric, or heat pump technologies. The low-temperature design and hot-water conversion at the district level are new campus standards and represent investments in a lower carbon future.
What is deep dynamic compaction?

Deep dynamic compaction (DDC) is ground improvement technique that is used to consolidate and stabilize ground surfaces before construction. A heavy weight is dropped by a large crane at regular intervals, from approximately 50 feet above ground. The drop weight creates vibrations below the ground surface that improve soils at depth.
DDC will be performed on two occasions to prepare both NCRE sites. DDC has been completed on Site I and is anticipated to be complete on the footprints of Buildings 3, 4 and 5 by January 2020. Those close to the DDC sites may feel a slight vibration and hear low-frequency thumping noises from the drop weight hitting the ground. Depending on the necessary height from which the weight is dropped, impacts are not expected to exceed a 75 foot radius from the DDC work zone. Residents of nearby buildings could experience minimal, but not disruptive, impacts. If necessary, as an extra precaution, the contractor will dig isolation trenches near these buildings in order to mitigate any potential influence. To mitigate potential effects on utilities within a 25 foot radius of the DDC zone, all necessary utility work and re-routing will be performed prior the DDC in order to safely maintain existing utilities that serve other areas.

The Sophomore year site is near the crossroads of Triphammer Road and Jessup Road (highlighted (1, 2) in red near the top left corner).

NCRE site plan map. Site 1 is near the crossroads of Triphammer Road and Jessup Road (highlighted in red near the top left corner).

What are the scheduled working hours on North Campus?

Weekday work times during the academic year will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end between 4 and 5 p.m. Saturday work will be authorized only as needed; and mandatory quiet and stand-down dates, such as during finals week, will be implemented.

Weekday work times during summer will begin at 6:00 a.m. 

Parking & Transportation
What are the potential impacts on TCAT service?

TCAT Routes 81 and 82 are operating on modified routes and schedules during the summer and may continue to do so throughout the project. Visit the TCAT website for more information.

Cornell anticipates an increase in demand for TCAT services upon completion of NCRE, and is working with TCAT to evaluate and coordinate future ridership needs and how these needs will be met. While the exact changes to bus schedules or routes are not yet finalized, preliminary review by TCAT indicates the need for two additional bus runs during its morning peak-time on weekdays and two additional bus runs on weekday evenings.

How will the project impact parking on North Campus?

The CC Lot (a 386-space parking lot on Jessup Road) will be replaced by the sophomore housing development. A September 2017 survey indicates that there are approximately 20 staff and maintenance vehicles and 90 students who utilize the CC Lot on a daily basis. Due to the relatively low utilization rates of the lot, it is expected that parking displacement at the site will not impact overall parking on North Campus and that most parking needs can be accommodated through the current surplus parking inventory on campus.

While a portion of the Appel Lot will be replaced by the first-year student housing development, 77 spaces will remain from the original parking lot at the end of the project. As of September 2020, parking has been enhanced at Robert Purcell Community Center to help accommodate visitors and conference attendees. Building-specific parking needs such as accessible spaces, loading zones, or parking for service vehicles will be accommodated in the proposed development. Furthermore, Cornell’s Department of Transportation and Delivery Services is currently studying ways to better utilize parking across campus.

Visit the Parking and Transportation website for information about current parking impacts.

Where can I park to access the Helen Newman Hall facilities?

Permit and pay-by-plate parking at Appel Commons is no longer available as of July 1, 2019. Staff permit parking with TCAT access is available in the North Campus A Lot (A permit) and Hasbrouck Apartments (R permit). Short-term, pay-by-plate parking is available in several lots on North Campus. Visit the short-term and visitor parking page for a map of parking locations.

Where can commuting students with SC permits park with the CC Lot closed?

There are several SC permit areas, most located on Campus Road traveling east from the Crescent Lot. Students with classes in the center of campus may find that walking or TCAT services better suit their mobility needs than driving and parking on campus.

Can staff exchange paid permits for a no-fee A permit?

Yes. You may return your staff parking permit in exchange for an A permit. Please note that all permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, and permit issuance could be limited due to increased demand.

I see department work vehicles parking in A Lot. Can they be moved?

We are working with Transportation Services, Facilities and Campus Services to address department vehicle parking and increase the number of spaces available to commuters.

Where can I park if my lot is full?

Currently, all staff parking permits have flow-down privileges allowing access to lower-tiered parking areas. Student parking permit holders do not have the same flow-down privileges, and should only park in areas signed specifically for their permit type or use a short-term parking option.

Where can students park after-hours and on weekends?

Most of the parking areas on North Campus are available after 5 pm on weekdays, and all day on Saturday and Sunday. There are some lots that are restricted from 6 am-6 pm for staff, and residential FH and ND areas are restricted at all times to permit holders. Please read all signs carefully to avoid receiving a citation and review the night/weekend parking restrictions page.

What modifications have been made in response to the Appel Parking Lot closure?

Effective Monday, September 16, the Appel Commons parking lot closed for the duration of the project. A new lot will open in this area at the close of project construction in the summer of 2022.

For short-term parking options using the ParkMobile app or website, a phone, or a paystation, see the Facilities and Campus Services Short-Term Parking webpage.

Handicap parking access is available in the Helen Newman Hall parking lot on the west side of Helen Newman Hall. The six available handicap spaces already in that lot have been increased to ten. The sidewalk between this lot and Appel Commons has been regraded to a less than 5% grade, so it will be navigable for those with mobility impairment.

R permit holders may still park in the Hasbrouck Apartments outer loop, as well as in the Anna Comstock House, 410 Thurston Avenue, and Thurston Court Apartments parking lots, as well as on Program House Drive and in designated spaces outside RPCC, Dickson Hall, and Donlon Hall. All employees continue to have the option of parking in A Lot.

Bus service to the Appel Commons stop or the Helen Newman stop across Cradit Farm Drive is available on TCAT Routes 81, 82, 90, 92, and 93. See for route details and schedules.

More information about parking on campus is available on the FCS website.

Will the project use union labor?

Cornell received support from local trade labor groups during the governmental approval process. In addition, members of the following trades, which are represented by our internal collective bargaining agreement, have been fully engaged in the project: electricians, plumbers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, masons, painters and laborers. The expanded residential capacity at North Campus will also create additional job opportunities for other Cornell employees, including our unionized staff.

What are the impacts on water infrastructure?

The North Campus Residential Expansion will create greater demand for water and sewer. Cornell maintains its own potable water system that serves campus and limited portions of the surrounding community. With completion of the recent North Campus Water Main Replacement Project, improvements to the distribution system and continued operation of the Pleasant Grove Road pressure-reducing valve station, the system is more than adequate to supply both domestic and fire-flow demands to North Campus, including the increase in domestic demands associated with the NCRE.

Will the new buildings affect the observatory?

We have actively engaged with Fuertes Observatory members to mitigate concerns with the new building exterior lighting design, specifically on Site 2 near Appel Commons. The building exteriors will use sharp-cutoff LED light fixtures that comply with dark-sky lighting to minimize light pollution. We have also planted fast-growing trees to help shield the Observatory. In addition, Cornell staff looked closely at existing lighting fixtures on North Campus, which led to the removal of a flood light on the roof of Mary Donlon Hall.

What measures is Cornell taking to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff?

The stormwater management objectives focus on controlling erosion and sedimentation during construction and treatment of runoff from the post-developed site. A full Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) was developed under the regulations of the local municipalities and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and approved by the City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, and Village of Cayuga Heights.