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Cornell University

Cornell Design Standards and Details

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Cornell uses its best efforts to promulgate standards for the benefit of those parties involved in providing services to Cornell in light of available information and accepted industry practices. Cornell does not guarantee, certify, or assure the safety or performance of any products, components, or systems tested, installed, or operated in accordance with Cornell standards, or that any tests conducted under its standards will be non-hazardous or free from risk.


The standards set forth in these documents are intended to serve as design and construction standard guidelines for the Ithaca Campus of Cornell University. As such, they reflect the planning, design, construction, and maintenance expertise of University personnel. The standards have been compiled and edited by the Department of Facilities Engineering within the Division of Facilities Services.

As standards for the University, this information is to be applied to renovation and new construction from the very first planning and design stages through actual construction and facilities maintenance and management. The information included within each standard section contains procedures to be followed, materials to be used, or design guidelines that we at Cornell have found to be appropriate to assure the quality desired at the University now and through our future maintenance of these facilities. Facilities personnel within the University, as well as outside architects, consultants, and contractors should become familiar with these standards.


The standards included herein shall serve as a basis for a code of quality for all campus-wide design, construction, and maintenance procedures. The level of quality deemed by any one standard is determined on the basis of reliability, serviceability, safety, and cost (including design, construction, inventory, operating, and maintenance costs). The information contained in these standards is not specific to any one project, but common to all Facilities projects. As the University constructs a wide range of facilities, these standards must be adjusted to meet specific project needs. These standards establish a baseline of quality and it is Cornell’s expectation that deviations from these standards will be discussed with the Office of the University Engineer throughout the design process. If the designer does not bring forward suggested deviations from the Design and Construction Standards, drawings will be reviewed for conformance.


Standards shall form the basis from which to create specifications. All of the concepts and procedures included are for the use of designers and consultants. The use and inclusion of these standards in bid documents does not relieve the consultant or architect of the responsibility and legal liability for any bid documents created from these standards.


Standards from all areas of design and construction are continually being developed. As changes and new sections are ready for inclusion, changes will be made to this Web Site. This document will never be published, but remains a “living” document keeping abreast of new and better procedures or materials as we become aware of them.


These standards were developed and are maintained by the Department of Facilities Engineering, 201 Humphreys Service Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-3701. We appreciate any feedback you would like to give on the content of the standards or format of this site.