Construction began on Duffield Hall in June 2001 and was completed in Fall 2004. Cornell Engineering alumnus David Duffield '62 EE, co-founder and chairman of Workday, Inc., of Pleasanton, California, provided the major funding for the facility, and the building was named in his honor in recognition of this support. Significant support was also provided by Dwight C. Baum '36, the Lester B. Knight '29 Trust, The LaCroute family, David Welch PhD, Frederick Young '62, Douglas Leone '81, Kenneth Goldman '72, C. Jay Abbe '63, John Swanson '61, Charles F. Knight '57, several other alumni, the Lucent corporation, and a group of anonymous donors.
Although research labs, teaching labs, and offices constitute the primary allocation of space in Duffield Hall, the facility also includes four large atria and a variety of rooms for conferences, seminars, and colloquia. Although some spaces are restricted for use by Duffield Hall occupants, others are available for use by a wider range of Cornell University departments and affiliated groups.