SouthWorks is the adaptive reuse of the historic Morse Chain Industrial site into a diverse, sustainable neighborhood and regional economic catalyst that activates the community while celebrating its unique history.

Spanning the dramatic terrain of Ithaca’s South Hill, SouthWorks creates nearly two million square feet of research, maker, fabrication, commercial, and public space, as well as mixed-income housing, developed over multiple phases. Each phase focuses on the creation of distinct, holistic neighborhoods with a diversity of housing types and densities, alleviating the underserved Ithaca housing market. Featuring 900 planned units of affordable, workforce, and market rate housing, residents have access to multi-modal transportation options, minimizing the reliance on private vehicles and taking advantage of the site’s proximity to downtown Ithaca. A proposed trail connects SouthWorks to Six Mile Creek Preserve and Buttermilk Falls State Park. The project employs passive design, electrification, and district thermal energy, supported by on-site geothermal and photovoltaic solar generation to reach net-zero energy.

The Chainway neighborhood is at the heart of SouthWorks, comprised of 28 adjacent industrial buildings constructed between 1906 and 1973. This 850,000 square-foot complex was used to manufacture chains for bicycles and cars and transitioned to making aircraft during WWI. The varying age and materiality of these buildings provides a web of high-bay space and original factory-style windows with breathtaking views of Cayuga Lake. The Chainway maintains and celebrates the historic character through the selective demolition of infill buildings to create a centralized, public streetscape interspersed with activated courtyards, diverse programming, and natural light. The extensive reuse of existing structures minimizes the environmental impact of new construction, reducing waste and whole life carbon. Looking toward a circular approach to construction, materials from demolished buildings are reused or upcycled, reducing landfill waste and the demand for new materials. The neighborhood is complemented by the “Sky Chain,” an elevated zig-zagging bridge, which provides an accessible path to traverse the site’s steep grading and provide public access to the Chainway’s core. This feature grants views that otherwise would be afforded only to tenants.


Ithaca, NY, USA


Shift Capital


Hospitality, Mixed-Use, Office, Research + Healthcare, Residential, Retail


93,000 m2 / 1,000,000 ft2


Award of Citation – Urban Planning and Design (AIA New York State Design Awards 2023)

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Project Type:Mixed-Use
Project Location:Americas