A sneak peek at Cornell’s futuristic NYC tech campus

In addition to campus buildings, project calls for new roads and 2.5 acres of open space

TRD New York /
May 08, 2014 05:45 PM

Cornell recently unveiled its vision for the massive tech campus it plans to build on New York City’s Roosevelt Island.

When the campus opens in 2017, it will provide a permanent home for an entirely new school called Cornell Tech that city officials hope will position New York as a major tech center. Cornell beat out top-notch schools like Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford to create the new graduate school, which will be focused on classes in computer science, business, and entrepreneurism.

A recent $133 million gift from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan, created The Jacobs Institute, which will offer dual-degrees in the applied information-based sciences.

Eight degrees will eventually be offered, three of which will be dual master’s degrees from Cornell and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The three degrees will cover “connective media,” “healthier life,” and “built environment.”

The idea is that classes will position students to use technology to solve problems faced by various industries in New York City and the world.

“Cornell Tech will bring a sharp increase in science and engineering teaching, attract students from around the world, and spin off new local companies and thousands of new jobs, and inject billions of dollars into our economy,” former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press release announcing the funding last year.

Roosevelt Island, a narrow strip of land between Manhattan and Queens, is an interesting choice for a tech hub. Though there is a tram and a stop on the F train, cars are only allowed on certain parts of the island.

In addition to campus buildings, the project calls for the construction of new roads and 2.5 acres of open space.

The buildings themselves will be pretty high-tech, too. The architects hope to achieve net-zero energy in the academic building by installing solar panels on its roof. They also plan to install a system of 400 geothermal wells that will heat and cool the campus.

“Our hope is that this campus will become a place where people who are interested in using tech to make a difference in the world will find this to be a place that’s a magnet for them,” Cornell Tech Dean and Vice Provost Daniel Huttenlocher said in a video announcing the project.

When completed, the two-million-square-foot complex will house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students. The campus won’t be completed until 2017, but until then, a group of 11 engineering students enrolled in the new program are working out of temporary classrooms in Google’s Chelsea offices.

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