History has it that New York City's Manhattan island was purchased for the equivalent of $24 from local Indian tribes in 1624, making the transaction an event for the ages. On September 17th dignitaries, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke at the dedication of the Cornell Tech campus located on Roosevelt Island, adjacent to Manhattan Island. In their remarks the speakers suggested that the tech campus' opening was another seminal event in the City's history, giving former Mayor Michael Bloomberg great credit for the achievement.
Bloomberg's vision was to further the City as a global magnet for economic activity and capital, as well as have New York one day be a competitor to Silicon Valley on tech innovation.
“Cornell Tech is an investment in the future of New York City—a future that belongs to the generations to come, and the students here will help build it. Technological innovation played a central role in New York City becoming a global economic capital---and it must continue to play a central role for New York to remain a global economic capital,” Bloomberg intoned to the hundreds of invited attendees.
The 12 acre campus is built on City land and, as of the dedication ceremony, houses three buildings, designed to reflect the important role that technology will have in the City’s future. The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, named for Mayor Bloomberg’s two daughters, is the first academic building on campus. Underwritten in part by a $100 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies and designed by Morphosis Architects, the Center focuses on connecting people through a variety of innovatively designed spaces intended to support different learning modes and encouraging collaboration.
The Bridge, a 230,000 square foot building designed by Weiss Manfredi with 16,500 sq. feet of rooftop solar panels, will serve as a hub for tech innovation. It brings academia and industry together in a “first-of-its” kind space that will accelerate tech commercialization. World class talent in the form of faculty, master’s, and PhD students will collaborate together, as well as with companies seeking to test and launch products—putting research and technology behind efforts to introduce innovative ideas to market.
The House, the third completed structure and designed by Handel Architects, is a 26-story dorm with 500 beds for students and a small number of apartments for faculty. It is the largest Passive House high-rise in the world, meeting international standards to reduce energy consumption, while creating a healthier living environment.
By completion, projected for 2043, the campus will have 10 buildings, house 2,000 students, in addition to a range of corporate tenants. The inaugural tenants are Citigroup, Two Sigma Investments and Ferrero, an Italian chocolate company.
Upon announcing Cornell Tech as the winner of the Bloomberg’s Administration’s Applied Sciences Competition in 2011, it was estimated that 8,000 permanent jobs would be created, hundreds of spin-off companies created and over $23 billion in economic activity generated over the coming 35 years.
A tour of the structures following the dedication highlighted the many architectural features earlier noted in speeches that stressed the importance of collaboration. It revealed to guests open floor plans, extensive use of glass on the façade of the Bridge and in building interiors, expansive plazas and area views from terraces, and offices, labs and cafes conducive to connecting people and spurring innovation.
As important, the campus is also seen as having a major role in changing graduate education that was part of the first vision of the campus.
“Cornell University, in partnership with the Technion, is defining a new model for graduate education--a model that melds cutting-edge research and education with entrepreneurship and real world application,” proclaimed Cornell University President Martha E. Pollock, sharing the expectations surrounding the opening of the modern day campus. The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech is an academic partnership of two global universities and houses the Health Tech and Connective Media programs which offer students dual degrees from Cornell and Israel-based Technion.
At The Studio, a place located in The Bridge that has a curriculum where students practice the actions of entrepreneurship, product design, management, and other areas, was showcased via two student founded startups. They showcased the collaboration and entrepreneurial innovation being fostered at Cornell Tech achieved through its unique curriculum. The co-founders of Speech Up, a mobile app that gamifies the speech therapy process, and Ursa, a product that provides collaborative tools for product design and ideation, gave presentations about their startups. They represent some of the 300 plus students now enrolled or who have passed through the program while it was housed in the Google building in Chelsea during campus construction.
Greg Pass, founding Chief Entrepreneurial Officer and Professor of Practice, shared that over 30 companies have already been spun out of the Cornell Tech campus, $20 million in funds raised, and 100 people employed. With the opening of the Roosevelt Island campus promoting year to year growth of the entrepreneurial focused student body, all bodes well for the economic contribution to come.
“By harnessing the engineering expertise of Cornell and the entrepreneurial spirit of Technion, Cornell Tech’s new campus will strengthen New York’s future competitiveness and produce innovations that will change the world,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.