An aerial view from Manhattan of the new campus on Roosevelt Island. An aerial view from Manhattan of the new campus on Roosevelt Island. An aerial view from Manhattan of the new campus on Roosevelt Island. (Photo: Courtesy Kilograph, Weiss Manfredi, Handel)

New tech campus on NYC’s Roosevelt Island receives $100 million jolt

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ donation will help fund construction of Cornell Tech.

With the goal of reinventing graduate education for the digital age, Cornell Tech took a major step forward earlier this month. At the groundbreaking ceremony on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, the school – a partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa – announced a massive $100 million donation from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The gift will fund construction projects throughout the campus.

The 2 million-square-foot site, scheduled to open in summer 2017, will combine academia and industry to launch new companies and products. The first phase includes:

The Bridge at Cornell Tech will house an ecosystem of companies, researchers and entrepreneurs focused on sparking innovation and the invention of new products and technologies. “It’s taking this notion of the commercialization of academia to a higher plane,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, the owner and developer of the building, told Fast Company.

• A residential building for students, staff and faculty will be the first Passive House high-rise in the world. The goal of this rigorous international building standard is to drastically reduce energy consumption (and costs) while creating a healthier and more comfortable living space.

• Named in honor of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s daughters, Emma and Georgina, the Bloomberg Center – the first academic building on campus – will adapt open-floor-plan offices from the tech world to the academic arena. The school intends for the Bloomberg Center to be among the largest net-zero energy buildings in America, which means all its power will be generated on campus.

A rendering of the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.A rendering of the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. (Photo: Courtesy Kilograph, Weiss Manfredi, Handel)

Bloomberg has seen Cornell Tech through its inception. In 2011, as New York’s then-mayor, he chose Cornell and Technion to build a tech-centered campus on Roosevelt Island, a narrow strip of land between Manhattan and Queens, to help boost the city’s economic development.

During the groundbreaking ceremony on June 16, Bloomberg said he anticipates Cornell Tech will spin off cutting-edge companies that will create billions in revenue for the city and thousands of jobs.

“Those jobs won’t be just for professors and researchers,” said Bloomberg, an engineering major in college, who joked that admission to Cornell Tech would be out of reach for him. “They’ll be for building workers, office managers, administrative assistants and many others – the kind of jobs that will expand the middle class and create opportunities for people to enter it.”

Technion President Peretz Lavie said this will be one of the most intriguing campuses ever built. “It is extremely gratifying to know that the Technion is part of it,” he said in a statement. “It will be one of the most modern and advanced research institutes in the world – a citadel of innovation. When I visited Roosevelt Island recently, I felt that I was standing on a bridge between the Technion and Cornell University. I think everyone in Israel and New York should be proud of what has been accomplished here.”

When fully completed, the campus will house hundreds of faculty and staff and approximately 2,000 graduate students.


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