Cocktail Lounge

by Jennifer Lee

If it is your first, second, or third year at Cornell, you have not seen Cocktail Lounge before her glow-up. Created in 1942, the lounge houses students with questionable sleeping habits. The 24/7 study is located in equidistant to North Campus, West Campus, and Collegetown-- the three most popular student residencies. The Cocktail Lounges distance to students’ homes, libraries, and Willard Straight Hall, allow students to grab a quick coffee and bagel or popcorn and a three course meal.

However, this piece isn’t an advertisement for the lounge. As a sophomore in the College of Engineering, my freshman year was filled with more hours exploring the iconic chain of Engineering buildings, Upson-Duffield-Phillips, and grabbing some ramen at Trillium after my CS 1110 lecture. Furthermore my nights were spent in the lounges of Court-Kay Bauer, spoiled by the AC, AC and AC.

What was old Cocktail lounge like?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but from my research the Cocktail Lounge was the SPOT for night owls. The lounge was filled with noises of opening chips bags, whispers of late night confessions, and the constant in and outflow of students studying before or after some collegetown parties. She was homey and relaxed allowing students to feel comfortable, napping, eating, talking, etc. She lived up to her name minus the alcohol.

What is the new Cocktail Lounge like?

This time Facebook message me if I'm wrong, but from my personal experience the Cocktail Lounge now does a better job of fostering a clinical space, but yes, it does get loud sometimes. I personally love the Cocktail Lounge because I am not the quietest person on earth especially if my friends are just a desk away. The location is so convenient (close to where I work, live, and study). It is fairly close to the Engineering Quad, but far enough so I don’t coincidentally run into everyone I know. The Cocktail Lounge’s minimalist, chic, new-decade style is equivalent to that of a sheltered college freshman going to 20 O-week parties with their O-Week friends that they’re never going to talk to again. Similar to the lounge, that freshman can be considered an icon living their full lives by some and the rock bottom of humanity by others.

No hate, honestly. I love the Cocktail Lounge. I’m there all the time. HMU my hours are 3-8 AM Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (if they’re open after cleaning), Saturday, and Sunday. I’m an asian girl with round glasses, who looks like an international student, but speaks like she’s been living in America for more than her lifespan.

The super biased survey I sent out:

As a previous worshipper and lover of the Cocktail Lounge, I did not understand the controversy people had with the new renovations. So I uploaded onto my SnapChat and Instagram story for my biggest fans to reply to me. I had to filter through SO many results I spent HOURS on my app.

Here is what I uploaded (very professional I know, I’m basically a full blown journalist):

In conclusion here are some pros and cons of the Cocktail Lounge.



Looks new, clean Clinical and cold
Reservable group study spaces Group study spaces are not soundproof
Outlets everywhere People everywhere and very close together might be a fire hazard?
Reminds you when the library is about to close Reminder is a loud bell.
Easy to communicate with people you are working with Easy to talk to your friends
Couches are comfortable People sleep on the couches
Vending machines give you good midnight snacks But you can’t use quarters and BRBs and the coffee machine is constantly out of coffee and only has hot water
Nice filtered water to be environmentally friendly Filter is not exchanged out when it isn’t a good filter anymore.
Bathrooms are automatic so it is cleaner People are nasty and cleaning isn't done regularly because it disturbs students when they’re studying and can’t go to the bathroom and they study 24/7 because Cocktail Lounge is open 24/7
The C tables so that you can study with them at the couches They don’t fit underneath the couches so you have to manspread really widely and try to fit the desks in between your legs and that is not comfortable.
There is a lot of seating and the Cocktail Lounge can fit a lot of people Everyone is breathing everyone’s breath and it’s so dense people are going to die
Really good view of the slope When it’s sunset the sunset hits your eyes and you’re temporarily blinded for a day
Minimalist, but can be homey People take off their shoes and because of the cocktail lounge’s bad ventilation it stinks up the entire place.
There is individual lights for everyone They’re in the middle of the desk so you can’t put your laptop in the middle or anything towards the middle it’s just offset.
They optimize space You can play accidental footsie from the person across from you
The orange wall of random words There is no downside to this. Cornell students are poets. And immature.
It’s exclusivity (scan keycard at the door, alarm when the door is left open to alert students of the safety risk) The annoying alarm. You can also get into the cocktail lounge using the door to Uris library. Just why.

So why did they do all this?

Apparently the designers have taken student feedback when choosing the furniture, aiming to find a balance between uncomfortable versus comfortable furniture-- comfortable enough so there is no pain, but uncomfortable so the students do not fall asleep.

In conclusion, the cocktail lounge will not be able to satisfy all students unless it became 20 different study spaces at once, but optimizing the campus so that there is somewhere on campus where everyone can go is the best. I have redesigned the cocktail lounge so it is the best for me and my studying habits here:

Try designing yours.

Any public space will not be a one-size-fits-all sort of situation. That is like having pants for everyone to share and wear. The pants will be too long, fit too tight, fit too loose, too short, blah blah blah. Just like how the cocktail lounge is too loud, too studious, too clinical, too blah blah blah. What should happen is a flexible work space. Something that is interchangeable and flexible so it can accommodate the student who can only work in silent spaces and also accomodate the student who likes having noise as a sort of white noise.

Jennifer Lee

Jennifer is from Wayne, PA (about 40 min from Philadelphia). She plays an excessive amount of Tetris and her current high-score for 40L sprint is 37.02 seconds. Jen hates olives, bananas, and brussel sprouts. Jen loves PureLeaf Peach Tea and whipped cream.