Skip to Content

Cornell University
Balch Hall

Beloved for its historic charm, Balch Hall is in need of extensive upgrades. Goody Clancy is working with Cornell to make Balch accessible and comfortable for all, and to ready the iconic building for another century of service.

  • Location



    Practice area


Balancing preservation with progress

Balch Hall is one of Cornell’s most historic residence halls. Its ivy-covered stone walls, slate roof, and leaded-glass windows are details that tie this building to the architectural traditions of its campus. Our comprehensive renovation preserves Balch Hall’s treasured character while modernizing it to meet the needs of current and future residents.

The renovation involves exterior repairs, systems replacement, and reconfigurations to the floorplan. New lounges on every floor will provide students with additional social space, and four new elevators will make the building universally accessible.

Thoughtful site design sculpts five new accessible entrances to the building, making Balch an equitable and inviting gateway to the North Quad.
Key architectural elements, like Balch’s iconic central archway, will be preserved in the new design.


Many existing lounges are only accessible via half-level stairs. The renovation inserts four elevators into the existing structure to make all thirteen levels of the building universally accessible.

To preserve Balch’s historic character, we implemented a thoughtful approach that involved salvaging and repurposing various building materials, including historic light fixtures, marble partitions, and original wood doors. With utmost care, the team undertook a meticulous disassembly and deconstruction process to catalog and safeguard these elements for integration into the new design.

The late Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, was a Balch Hall resident. The doors to her dorm suite were salvaged and will be repurposed to create an art installation honoring her legacy.
Hundreds of other quality wood doors, which are too short to meet modern code requirements, will be reused as wall paneling in lounges. Existing hardware will remain on the exposed side; students can hang their belongings on the doorknobs.
Project impact
  • 17 tons

    Of building items were redirected from the landfill to an architectural salvage store for resale

  • 39.9

    kBtu/sf-yr (projected) thanks to sustainable strategies including efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures

For more information about this project:

Share this project:

Project Team


Arcadis Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Architects


Carol R. Johnson & Associates

Code Red Consultants, LLC

HLB Lighting Design

Robert Silman Associates

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Thornton Tomasetti


Vertran Enterprises

Whitney Veigas


Back to top