Housing Master Plan


Cornell University initiated a Housing Master Planning process in January 2016 to provide a near- and long-term strategy for student housing that would:

  • optimize the University's student housing portfolio,
  • improve the student experience,
  • support the University's academic mission, and
  • support the surrounding community's goal of providing affordable housing.

U3 Advisors and Design Collective were selected via a competitive process to lead the nine-month planning process. During this time, multiple stakeholders were consulted including students, faculty, staff, administrators, and officials from the City and Town of Ithaca and Tompkins County.

At the time the Housing Master Plan was conducted, Cornell had the capacity to house less than half of its undergraduates and ten percent of its graduate and professional students. While Cornell's housing portfolio includes a diverse array of housing configurations, there is not enough housing to meet demand and accommodate students in appropriate living environments that meet their developmental and programming needs.

The lack of housing is particularly problematic for undergraduates, as fierce competition for a limited number of beds has resulted in a lottery system that creates intense anxiety among first-years and sophomores and difficulty living in one place on campus for more than one year. The sheer number of students living off-campus has also created tremendous upward pressure on rents in Collegetown without a corresponding increase in the quality of housing, exposing many students to dilapidated and sometimes unsafe living conditions.

While many graduate and professional students live off-campus for reasons of affordability, many still seek a sense of community and compelling social experiences outside their academic disciplines. Demand for Cornell—owned and affiliatedhousing is particularly strong among international students and students with families.

To learn more, download the full Housing Master Plan Report