Posts tagged with "Cornell NYC Tech":

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The origins and perils of development in the urban tech landscape

In most major cities of the world, an urban tech landscape has emerged. One day, we were working on our laptops at Starbucks, and the next, we were renting desks at WeWork. We embedded our small architectural and design firms in low-rent spaces in old factories and warehouses, and then we emerged as “TAMI” (technology, advertising, media, and information) tenants, heating up the commercial real estate market. Friends who could write computer code started businesses in their apartments before moving into tech incubators and accelerators, which then morphed into a “startup ecosystem.” Though a competitive city in the 1990s might only have had one cutely named cluster of startups—New York’s Silicon Alley, San Francisco’s Media Gulch—by the 2010s, many cities were building “innovation districts.” How did this happen? And what does it mean for these cities’ futures?

The simplest explanation is that cities are catching up to the digital economy. If computers and the web are one of the primary means of production for the 21st century, all cities need the infrastructure—broadband, connectivity, flexible office space—to support them. Companies that control the means of production also need raw material—the data that newly “smart” cities can provide—to develop concepts, test prototypes, and market their wares. Local governments and business leaders have always reshaped cities around the businesses that profit from new technology; In the 19th century, they built railroad stations, dug subway tunnels, and laid sewage pipes; in the 20th century, they wired for electricity and erected office towers. Maybe we should ask why it has taken cities so long to rebuild for digital technology.

Inertia is one answer, and money is another. Entrenched elites don’t readily change course, especially if a new economy would challenge their influence on local politics and labor markets. Think about the long dominance of the auto industry in Detroit and the financial industry in New York, both late converts to digital technologies like self-driving cars and electronic banking, respectively.

Another reason for cities’ slow awakening to the tech economy is the post–World War II prominence of suburban office parks and research centers, part of the mass suburbanization of American society. On the East Coast, tech talent began to migrate from cities in the early 1940s, when Bell Labs, the 20th-century engineering powerhouse, moved from Lower Manhattan to a large tract of land in suburban New Jersey. A few years later, on the West Coast, Stanford University and the technology company Varian Associates spearheaded the construction of an electronics research park on a university-owned site of orange groves that later became known as Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley got the lion’s share of postwar federal government grants and contracts from the military for microwave electronics innovation, missile research, and satellite communications. Venture capital (VC) soon followed. Although VC firms began in New York and Boston, by the 1960s and ’70s they were setting up shop in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Valley’s hegemony was solidified in the 1980s by the rise of the personal computer industry and the VCs who got rich by investing in it. The suburban tech landscape so artfully represented in popular mythology by Silicon Valley’s DIY garages and in physical reality by its expansive corporate campuses was both pragmatically persuasive and culturally pervasive. Its success rested on a triple helix of government, business, and university partnerships, defining an era from Fairchild, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard (the first wave of major digital technology companies) to Apple, Google, and Facebook.

In contrast to the suburban postwar growth of Silicon Valley, the urban tech landscape was propelled by the rise of software in the early 2000s and gained ground after the economic crisis of 2008. Software was easier and cheaper to develop than computers and silicon chips—it wasn’t tied to equipment or talent in big research universities. It was made for consumers. Most important, with the development of the iPhone and the subsequent explosion of social media platforms after 2007, software increasingly took the form of apps for mobile devices. This meant that software startups could be scaled, a crucial point for venture capital. For cities, however, the critical point was that anyone, anywhere, could be both an innovator and an entrepreneur.

The 2008 economic crisis plunged cities into a cascade of problems. Subprime mortgages cratered, leaving severely leveraged households and financial institutions adrift. Banks failed if they didn’t get United States government lifelines. Financial jobs at all levels disappeared; local tax revenues plummeted. While mayors understood that they had to end their dependence on the financial sector—a realization most keenly felt in New York—they also faced long-term shrinkage in manufacturing sectors and office vacancies.

London had already tried to counter deindustrialization with the Docklands solution: Waterfront land was redeveloped for new media and finance, and unused piers and warehouses were converted for cultural activities. In Spain, this strategy was taken further in the 1990s by the construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum and the clearing of old industrial plants from that city’s waterfront. By the early 2000s, Barcelona’s city government was building both a new cultural district and an “innovation district” for digital media, efforts that bore a striking resemblance to the 1990s market-led development of the new media district in Manhattan’s Silicon Alley and the growth of tech and creative offices in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood.

Until the economic crisis hit, both spontaneous and planned types of urban redevelopment were connected to the popular “creative city” model promoted by Charles Landry in London and Richard Florida in Pittsburgh (later, Toronto). In 2009, however, economic development officials wanted a model that could create more jobs. They seized on the trope of “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” that had been circulating around business schools since the 1980s, channeling the spirit of the economic historian Joseph Schumpeter and popularized in a best-selling book by that title by the management guru Peter Drucker. Adopted by researchers at the Brookings Institution, urban innovation districts would use public-private partnerships to create strategic concentrations of workspaces for digital industries. It seemed like a brilliant masterstroke to simultaneously address three crucial issues that kept mayors awake at night: investments, jobs, and unused, low-value buildings, and land.

In the absence of federal government funding, real estate developers would have to be creative. They built new projects with money from the city and state governments, the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program for foreign investors, and urban impact funding that flowed through investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Federal tax credits for renovating historic buildings and investing in high-poverty areas were important.

Though all major cities moved toward an “innovation economy” after 2009, New York’s 180-degree turn from finance to tech was the most dramatic. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and 2001, followed by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and an economic recession, initially kept the city from endorsing the uncertainty of tech again. Michael Bloomberg, mayor from 2001 to 2013, was a billionaire whose personal fortune and namesake company came from a fusion of finance and tech, most notably the Bloomberg terminal, a specially configured computer that brings real-time data to stock brokers’ and analysts’ desks. Yet, as late as 2007, Mayor Bloomberg, joined by New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer, promoted New York as the self-styled financial capital of the world, a city that would surely triumph over its only serious rival, London. The 2008 financial crisis crumpled this narrative and turned the Bloomberg administration toward tech.

By 2009, the city’s business elites believed that New York’s salvation depended on producing more software engineers. This consensus motivated the mayor and his economic development officials to build big, organizing a global competition for a university that could create a dynamic, postgraduate engineering campus in New York. Cornell Tech emerged as the winner, a partnership between Cornell University and the Israel Institute of Technology. Between 2014 and 2017, the new school recruited high-profile professors with experience in government research programs, university classrooms, and corporate labs. They created a slew of partnerships with the city’s major tech companies, and the resulting corporate-academic campus made Roosevelt Island New York’s only greenfield innovation district. Not coincidentally, the founding dean was elected to Amazon’s board of directors in 2016.

The Bloomberg administration also partnered with the city’s public and private universities, mainly the aggressively expanding New York University (NYU), to open incubators and accelerators for tech startups. After NYU merged with Polytechnic University, a historic engineering school in downtown Brooklyn, the Bloomberg administration made sure the new engineering school could lease the vacant former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority nearby, where NYU’s gut renovation created a giant tech center.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn waterfront was booming. The Brooklyn Navy Yard added advanced manufacturing tenants and art studios to its traditional mix of woodworking and metalworking shops, food processors, and suppliers of electronics parts, construction material, and office equipment, and began to both retrofit old machine shops for “green” manufacturing and build new office space. While tech and creative offices were running out of space in DUMBO, the heads of the downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO business improvement districts came up with the idea of marketing the whole area, with the Navy Yard, as “the Brooklyn Tech Triangle.” With rezoning, media buzz, and a strategic design plan, what began as a ploy to fill vacant downtown office buildings moved toward reality. 

Established tech companies from Silicon Valley and elsewhere also inserted themselves into the urban landscape. Google opened a New York office for marketing and advertising in 2003 but expanded its engineering staff a few years later, buying first one, then two big buildings in Chelsea: an old Nabisco bakery and the massive former headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Facebook took AOL’s old offices in Greenwich Village. On the next block, IBM Watson occupied a new office building designed by Fumihiko Maki.

Jared Kushner’s brother, the tech investor Jonathan Kushner, joined two other developers to buy the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former headquarters and printing plant on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The developers converted the buildings into tech and creative offices and called the little district Dumbo Heights. By 2015, the growth of both venture capital investments and startups made New York the second-largest “startup ecosystem” in the world after Silicon Valley. Within the next three years, WeWork (now the We Company) surpassed Chase Bank branches as Manhattan’s largest commercial tenant.

All this development was both crystallized and crucified by Amazon’s decision to open half of a “second” North American headquarters (HQ2) in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, in 2018. Amazon organized a competition similar to the Bloomberg contest that resulted in Cornell Tech, but in this case, the contest was a bidding war between 238 cities that offered tax credits, help with land assemblage, and zoning dispensations in return for 50,000 tech jobs that the company promised to create. But in announcing its selection, Amazon divided the new headquarters in two, supposedly placing half the jobs in New York and the other half in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Many New Yorkers erupted in protest rather than celebration.

The amount of tax credits offered to the very highly valued tech titan, almost $3 billion in total, appeared to rob the city of funding for its drastic needs: fixing the antiquated subway system, repairing the aging public housing stock, and building affordable housing. The decision-making process, tightly controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, enraged New York City Council members, none of whom had been given a role in either negotiating or modifying the deal. The deal itself was closely supervised by New York State’s Economic Development Corporation behind closed doors, without any provision for public input or approval.

Housing prices in Long Island City rose as soon as the deal was announced. A city economic development representative admitted that perhaps half of the jobs at HQ2 would not be high-paying tech jobs, but in human resources and support services. In a final, painful blow, Amazon promised to create only 30 jobs for nearly 7,000 residents of Queensbridge Houses, the nearby public housing project that is the largest in the nation.

Amazon representatives fanned their opponents’ fury at public hearings held by the New York City Council. They said the company would not remain neutral if employees wanted to unionize, and they refused to offer to renegotiate any part of the deal. Opponents also protested the company’s other business practices, especially the sale of facial recognition technology to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Yet surveys showed that most registered New York City voters supported the Amazon deal, with an even higher percentage of supporters among Blacks and Latinos. Reflecting the prospect of job opportunities, construction workers championed the deal while retail workers opposed it. The governor and mayor defended the subsidies as an investment in jobs. Not coincidentally, Amazon planned to rent one million square feet of vacant space in One Court Square, the former Citigroup Building in Long Island City, before building a new campus on the waterfront that would be connected by ferry to Cornell Tech.

After two months of relentless, vocal criticism, in a mounting wave of national resentment against Big Tech, Amazon withdrew from the deal. Elected officials blamed each other, as well as a misinformed, misguided public for losing the economic development opportunity of a lifetime.

Yet it wasn’t clear that landing a tech titan like Amazon would spread benefits broadly in New York City. A big tech company could suck talent and capital from the local ecosystem, deny homegrown startups room to expand, and employ only a small number of “natives.”

From San Francisco to Seattle to New York, complaints about tech companies’ effect on cities center on privatization and gentrification. In San Francisco, private buses ferry highly paid Google workers from their homes in the city to the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, green space and cafes in the Mid-Market neighborhood proliferate to serve Twitter employees and other members of the technorati, low-income Latinos from the Mission district are displaced by astronomical rents—all of these factors stir resentment about Big Tech taking over. In Seattle, Amazon’s pressure on the city council to rescind a tax on big businesses to help pay for homeless shelters also aroused critics’ ire. Until recently, moreover, tech titans have been unwilling to support affordable housing in the very markets their high incomes roil: East Palo Alto and Menlo Park in California, and Redmond, Washington.

It remains to be seen whether urban innovation districts will all be viable, and whether they will spread wealth or instead create highly localized, unsustainable bubbles. Venture capital is already concentrated in a small number of cities and in a very few ZIP codes within these cities. According to the MIT economist David Autor, although the best “work of the future” is expanding, it is concentrated in only a few superstar cities and only represents 5 percent of all U.S. jobs.

Yet urban tech landscapes emerge from a powerful triple helix reminiscent of Silicon Valley. Elected officials promise jobs, venture capitalists and big companies make investments, and real estate developers get paid. Though these landscapes glitter brightly compared to the dead spaces they replace, they don’t offer broad participation in planning change or the equitable sharing of rewards.

Sharon Zukin is a Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and is author of the forthcoming book The Innovation Complex: Cities, Tech, and the New Economy.

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New passive 'house' guide includes high rises and projects by Handel and FXCollaborative

While sometimes controversial, passive house design techniques have become a standard reference point for some small-scale projects. A new publication by Low Carbon Production from New York titled From Small to Extra Large: Passive House Rising to New Heights expands that scope by presenting 51 new passive projects of a wide range of scales, including high-rise towers. Sendero Verde, a mixed-income development in East Harlem, and The House at Cornell Tech, both designed by Handel Architects, are among the projects published. The Cornell Tech building on Roosevelt Island offers housing for the new academic campus, and the 26-story complex featuring a double height lobby space and ceiling-high windows was once the world’s tallest passive building. The tower made use of specially designed vapor barriers and refrigerant flow systems. Many of the technological solutions are used in Sendero Verde, including a “floor-by-floor” strategy, where each floor has its own condensing unit that is housed in the balconies, creating flexibility in energy use. Sendero Verde incorporates “660 affordable passive house rental units,” community, and retail spaces.  A forest cabin, a country farm, and a panelized home by Barry Price Architecture are also featured in the publication. The 1994-founded design firm has developed standards for comfort, durability, and energy efficiency in their buildings. In a Bearsville, New York cabin, Price used prefabricated roof and wall elements, locally sourced exterior cladding and interior flooring to reduce the building's environmental footprint. Pollution to the rural site was minimized as building elements were manufactured off-site. Three projects by Paul A. Castrucci Architect are described in the publication, including ABC No Rio’s new headquarters in the Lower East Side, which is one of the first passive commercial buildings in the city. The building is included because of its careful attention to air sealing. According to the publication, “the concrete masonry shell was coated with an air sealer on the inside,” and a polyisocyanurate and mineral wool-made secondary air-sealing layer was introduced on the outside. The thermal breaks are essential for reducing energy consumed in regulating the interior temperatures throughout the seasons, according to the passive building philosophy. The report also presents other sustainable buildings by FXCollaborative, Jane Sanders Architect, and CO Adaptive Architecture. Check out this link for the full report.
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Morphosis-designed Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech celebrates opening

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With the goal of becoming a net zero building, The Bloomberg Center, designed by Morphosis, forms the heart of the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, bridging academia and industry while pioneering new standards in environmental sustainability through state-of-the-art design.
  • Facade Manufacturer Island Exterior Fabricators
  • Architects Morphosis
  • Facade Installer W&W Glass, LLC (unitized curtain wall); Island Exterior Fabricators; Barr & Barr (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants ARUP (facade, structural, MEP/FP engineering, sustainability; lighting; acoustical; av/it/smart building)
  • Location Roosevelt Island, New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System unitized continuously insulated rainscreen; photo voltaic solar canopy
  • Products Louvered ZIRA system from A. Zahner Company;  Custom Unitized Curtain Wall; Custom Curved Glass Enclosure
Spearheaded by Morphosis’ Pritzker Prize-winning founder Thom Mayne and principal Ung-Joo Scott Lee, The Bloomberg Center is the intellectual nerve center of the campus, reflecting the school’s joint goals of creativity and excellence by providing academic spaces that foster collective enterprise and collaboration. “The aim of Cornell Tech to create an urban center for interdisciplinary research and innovation is very much in line with our vision at Morphosis, where we are constantly developing new ways to achieve ever-more-sustainable buildings and to spark greater connections among the people who use our buildings. With the Bloomberg Center, we’ve pushed the boundaries of current energy efficiency practices and set a new standard for building development in New York City,” said Morphosis founder and design director Thom Mayne in a press release. The four-story, 160,000-square-foot academic building is named in honor of Emma and Georgina Bloomberg in recognition of a $100-million gift from Michael Bloomberg, who was responsible for bringing Cornell Tech to New York City while serving as the city’s 108th Mayor. A major feature of the building is an expansive photovoltaic canopy, with a low and narrow profile that frames views across the island. One of the building’s most distinctive features is its facade, optimized to balance transparency—maximizing daylighting and exterior views, and opacity—maximizing insulation and reducing thermal bridging. Designed as a rain screen system, the outermost layer of the facade is composed of aluminum panels surfaced in an iridescent, PPG polymer coating. Viewed from afar, the aluminum panels register a continuous image that merges the river-view scenery from Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island location and Cornell University’s idyllic campus in Ithaca, New York. Facing the city, the Bloomberg Center’s west facade registers the image of the Manhattan skyline as it is viewed directly across the East River. Along the campus’ main entry and central circulation spine (the “Tech Walk”), the east facade registers an image of Ithaca’s famous gorges. Designed in collaboration with A. Zahner Company, an architectural metal fabricator, the facade utilizes Zahner’s Louvered ZIRA system to create the image patterning. Each pixel of the image is translated into the specific turn-and-tilt of a two-inch circular tab punched into the aluminum paneling; the depth and rotation of each tab determine the amount of light reflected. This pixel map was fed into a repurposed welding robot, which processed the digital information into the mechanical turning-and-tilting of the facade’s 337,500 tabs. The algorithm controlling the robot was developed in collaboration with Cornell and MIT students. “Our collaboration with the Cornell and MIT students to develop the building’s facade is an example of the type of connections that Cornell Tech will foster between academia and tech industries,” said Ung-Joo Scott Lee, Principal at Morphosis and Project Principal of the Bloomberg Center. “We were ultimately interested in demonstrating that designing for net-zero creates not only a more energy efficient building but, in fact, a healthier and more comfortable environment for its occupants. The very systems that provide our path to high building performance are the same systems that provide better control to its users while giving the building its distinct identity. Cornell University’s leadership in sustainability is central to their mission; we look to continue that leadership in both upstate as well as downstate campuses.”
Morphosis will be participating in the upcoming Facades+ Los Angeles conference on October 19 to 20, 2017. Stan Su, who contributed to Bloomberg Center as a member of Morphosis’ Advanced Technology team, will be co-presenting a morning workshop along with Brad Prestbo (Director of Technical Resources, Sasaki Associates), Chris O'Hara (Founding Principal, Facades Director, Studio NYL). The workshop will be divided up into three parts: a group discussion on fundamental detailing principals, case study examples of how those principles are employed, and a hands-on session where the group will reverse-engineer details from notable projects.
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Cornell Tech campus opens with three high-tech buildings

Yesterday Cornell Tech's campus opened on Roosevelt Island, a strip of land between Manhattan and Queens perhaps best known for housing medical institutions and mental hospitals. This development definitively stakes a new identity for the island. Created through an academic partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the project is the winner of a New York City competition for an applied-sciences campus initiated by the Bloomberg administration. The campus spans 12 acres and houses three new buildings by Morphosis, Weiss/Manfredi and Handel Architects. So far, what makes the buildings stand out is their aim to be among the most sustainable and energy efficient structures in the world. The four-story, 160,000-square-foot Bloomberg Center, designed by Morphosis Architects, serves as the heart of Cornell Tech. With its primary power source on-site, it is one of the largest net-zero energy academic buildings in the world. Smart building technology developed in collaboration with engineering firm Arup includes a roof canopy supporting 1,465 photovoltaic panels designed to generate energy and shade the building to reduce heat gain, a closed-loop geothermal well system for interior cooling and heating, a rainwater harvesting system to feed the non-potable water demand and irrigate the campus, and a power system conserving energy when the building is not in use. Another striking element is The Bloomberg Center’s facade, which is comprised of a series of metal panels designed to decrease the building's overall energy demand. The Bridge, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, is a seven-story “co-location” building intended to link academia to entrepreneurship. It houses a range of companies from diverse industries that have the opportunity to work alongside Cornell academic teams. The loft-like design of the building encourages dialogue between the University's academic hubs and tech companies. The building orientation frames full river views and brings maximum daylight into its interior. At the ground level, the entrance atrium opens onto the center of campus extending into the surrounding environment through a series of landscaped terraces. The House, designed by Handel Architects, is a 26-story, 350-unit dormitory for students, staff, and faculty. It is the tallest and largest residential passive house in the world, meaning it follows a strict international building standard to reduce energy consumption and costs. The House is clad with a super-sealed exterior facade created from 9-by-36-foot metal panels with 8 to 13 inches of insulation which are projected to save 882 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Yesterday’s opening comprises just the first phase of the campus development project at Cornell Tech. 
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AEC professionals behind Cornell Tech Passive House reveal key to high energy performance

Today at Facades+ New York, The Architect's Newspaper's conference series on innovative building envelopes, AEC professionals gathered for a day of talks on the challenges and opportunities presented by the design and construction of high-performance facades.

To kick off the afternoon session, Blake Middleton, partner at Handel Architects and Lois Arena, senior mechanical engineer at SWA convened to talk about “The House” at Cornell Tech. The 26-story, 350-unit building, on Roosevelt Island on the East River, is the largest Passive House–certified structure in the world. AN editor-in-chief William Menking was on hand to moderate the post-talk Q+A.

Passive House certification, Arena explained, is the most rigorous building standard in the world. Why? The certification is based on performance—and the performance levels that Passive House demands are five to ten times higher than current building codes require. So, to meet the exacting standards, Arena and Blake revealed just how they rose to that challenge with their project at Cornell Tech.

There are six key factors, Arena said, to achieving the certification: siting, compact shape, the proper enclosure, a low energy HVAC system, energy efficient appliances and lighting, and, crucially, user-friendliness.

The Cornell Tech building is sited due south to maximize solar gains. Middleton added that minimizing the facade’s exposed surface area was key to the certification: the designers used a “wrap” metaphor for what the facade might be, a form that's connected to the geology of the island. With a facade that’s 23 percent glass, “the design goal was to break down that scale and solidity with banding,” he said.

Functionally, the team used a prefabricated panelized wall frame for the facade, both for quality control and to achieve desired R-values of 19-40, depending on the wall’s thickness at various points.

To really double down on efficient energy use, The House has a feedback system to encourage occupant participation whereby residents can see how much energy they are using. The system, as a result, promotes friendly competition between floors to meet or beat projected energy use. Meanwhile, a centralized mechanical ventilation system helps maintain optimal airflow, but each room—per Passive House standards—comes equipped with fully operational windows to encourage natural ventilation.

Building on the success of the Cornell Tech project, the team’s next projects include a 700-unit Passive House–certified affordable housing development in East Harlem. To find out more about The House, check out another Q+A AN did with Blake earlier this week as well as more previous coverage here.

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AN speaks to one of the architects behind the world's tallest Passive House building

Due for completion this year, the Cornell Tech campus going up on Roosevelt Island in New York is edging closer to seeing the world's tallest Passive House building erected. The building in question is a 270-foot-tall (26-story) residential tower that will house roughly 350 units for students and save 882 tons of CO2 per year relative to standard construction—the same as planting 5,300 new trees. I got the chance to speak with Blake Middleton, FAIA, of Handel Architects, the New York–based architecture firm behind the project and discuss how the firm approached the project. Jason Sayer: I understand the project will use a prefabricated metal panel facade system. Could you expand on this? How was this devised?  Blake Middleton: While the RFP from Cornell stated LEED Silver was the minimum bar for energy efficiency, we knew from early on that for this building we wanted to achieve a robust rating, at least Gold. We also knew we had to deliver the building at a cost to make the rents affordable for students. This meant using as much “off the shelf technology” as possible. We also knew that to achieve a really super-tight exterior wall: the fewer joints and penetrations in the exterior envelope, the better. This could not be an all-glass building—we would never have met our energy reduction goals with a glass curtain wall—and the average ratio of window to solid wall  was going to be much lower than most typical residential towers in New York (about 30% vs 45-65% typically). This led us quickly to select a prefabricated wall system where the windows could be installed in the factory, quality control was more robust, installation time significantly shortened, and fewer joints needed to be sealed. We likened the super insulated, super-air-tight wall to a big, thick wrapping “coat” around the building. It quickly became known as The Wrap, and became a central feature of our design expression. Likewise, could you tell me about the louvers the building uses? If The Wrap is the big coat around the building, the louvers are like a “zipper” for the coat. Behind the louvers are condenser units on each floor that power the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system which is the actual heat and cooling source for each of the spaces in the building. Did you set out to achieve the Passive House standard from the start?  While formulating our response to the Cornell RFP, we became aware that Passive House principles had been applied to a large building in Germany. Our client was intrigued and came away from a visit to that building excited about the possibilities of applying this protocol to the Cornell project. Because of the immense uncertainty at the early stages—could our construction team meet the challenge? Could we afford it?—the development team remained cautious about committing to actual Passive House design requirements. Once deeper into the research and design process, and more familiar with what was required, all involved became more confident we could make this work. Everyone stepped up to commit to the effort. The development team of Hudson/Related, along with Cornell, wanted to make this a showcase of “applied science": a beta test that, if successful, could have a dramatic impact on how super energy-efficient design can be applied to buildings of scale.  And in turn, how to make a meaningful impact on greenhouse-gas reduction with each building we erect in the future. Blake Middleton will be speaking at the next Facades+ conference in New York on April 6 and 7.  Without going into too much detail, what will you be speaking about at the Facades+ conference? My goal for the presentation at Facades+ is to have the audience understand how the fundamentals of Passive House design can be applied to a very large building. Heretofore most Passive House projects in Europe and the Americas have been relatively small in scale. The House at Cornell Tech takes a proven set of principles and applies them to a very large building—over 270,000 and 26 stories—and is being built within a relatively tight construction budget. My hope is that people will come away from the presentation excited and encouraged that Passive House is scalable, is affordable, and can be a powerful arrow in the quiver of robust energy efficiency strategies to combat global warming. Middleton and Lois Arena of Steven Winter Associates will discuss the Passive House building in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to facadesplus.com.
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Cornell Tech’s Verizon Executive Education Center and hotel unveiled

Renderings have been revealed for Cornell Tech's Verizon Executive Education Center (EEC) and hotel proposal on its Roosevelt Island campus in New York City. While the center and hotel—designed by Norwegian-American firm Snøhetta—are still pending approval from the Public Design Commission, Cornell Tech aims for the two buildings to be built by 2019. The EEC will contain event and teaching spaces. The former will cater to as many as 300 people through numerous conference rooms, a buffet lounge, and four classrooms capable of accommodating up to 75 students. Its facade comprises tightly spaced timber and aluminum mullions with glass fenestration dominating the top and bottom levels. The adjacent hotel—complete with a cafe, restaurant, rooftop lounge, and 195 rooms—will link up with the building through a shared hall. As for the campus itself, parking facilities will not be available. Pedestrian walkways, bicycle lanes, and bicycle storage facilities will comprise its circulation. According to DNAinfo, Cornell Tech's Senior Director of Capital Projects, Andrew Winters, said he views the EEC and hotel as "the front door for the campus." The two buildings are the final part of "Phase One" (of three) for Cornell Tech's Roosevelt Island plans which are penned for completion in 2043.
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Weiss/Manfredi's Cornell Tech Campus building tops off

Residential towers are rising on the banks of the East River in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. It's easy to forget that, in the middle of the river, development at Cornell University's New York City campus on Roosevelt Island is speeding ahead. The Bridge at Cornell Tech, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, topped off Monday. That building will have a partial green roof and a photovoltaic array to produce energy for campus. Stepped lawns leading up to the entrance encourage the building's program of spontaneous social interaction to spill out onto the street. https://youtu.be/PFRIKri9Y_c Along with Cornell Tech phase one buildings, the Bridge is set to open summer 2017. When complete, the 12-acre campus on Roosevelt Island will be the home of hundreds of Cornell faculty and staff, and around 2,000 students. The master plan, executed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) with James Corner Field Operations, calls for a "river-to-river" campus with 2.5 acres of public space and ten buildings that perform to a high environmental standard. The video above gives a sense of scale and layout of the development. Phase one buildings include the Bloomberg Center, an open-plan academic facility designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects. The Center, which aims to be one of the largest net-zero energy buildings in the U.S., takes its design cues from the collaborative workspaces of Silicon Valley. Handel Architects designed a student, faculty, and staff residence with an ambition to become the world's first residential Passive House high-rise.
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Cory Brugger of Morphosis Redefines Performance at Facades+ Chicago

Anticipation is growing for AN and Enclos’ eagerly awaited Facades + PERFORMANCE conference, touching down in Chicago from October 24th to 25th. Leading innovators from the architecture, engineering, and construction industries will share their insights on the latest in cutting-edge facade technologies that are redefining what performance means for 21st Century architecture. Don’t miss your chance to join Cory Brugger, Director of Technology for Morphosis Architects, as he is joined by a group of industry specialists to lead an in-depth dialog workshop on expanding the idea of performance in the design, engineering, and fabrication of innovative building systems. "Traditionally, performance has been defined in singular terms," Brugger told AN, "but when it comes to delivering architecture, it can encompass everything from energy usage to fabrication technique. For us, performance is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. We have found that technology provides a platform for incorporating a variety of performance criteria in our design process, allowing us to create innovative architecture, like the Cornell NYC Tech project on Roosevelt Island." Set to open its doors in 2017, Morphosis’ winning design for the highly publicized Cornell Tech campus will be breaking ground on Roosevelt Island in the coming year. As part of this ambitious, 2.1 million square foot development, Brugger and his colleagues at Morphosis hope to earn LEED-Platinum certification by with their 150,000 square foot academic building by utilizing cutting-edge modeling techniques and an array of sustainable technologies. "In general, we are designing for extremely high EUI (energy use intensity) goals, which are being accomplished through the use of comprehensive models that integrate mechanical systems, day-lighting analysis, and architectural assemblies," said Brugger. "This effort is being supported by a 140,000+ square foot PV array that is integral to both the performance and aesthetics of the design. Other technologies include high performance facade systems, smart building technology, and geo-thermal wells." In conjunction with master-planners SOM and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, Morphosis are working to create a new model for high-tech education in the information age by extending the definition of performance beyond traditional notions to incorporate far-sighted social and technological considerations. Reserve your space at Facades+ PERFORMANCE now to take part in an intimate discussion. Brugger will be joined my Paul Martin (Zahner), Tyler Goss (CASE), Matt Herman (Burro Happold), and Marty Doscher (Dassault Systèmes ) on Friday, October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus in Chicago. Don’t forget to check out our other exciting key-notes, symposia, and workshops on the complete Facades+ PERFORMANCE schedule.
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Cornell Closes in on New Roosevelt Island Campus

The stars are aligning for Cornell’s proposed technology campus on Roosevelt Island. The Morphosis-designed proposal has successfully made its way through New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP), and recently won the support of Manhattan Community Board 8 and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Two remaining review processes are left, and if all goes well, Cornell will have the green light to start construction by 2014.
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Cornell NYC Tech Campus Takes a Step Forward

Manhattan Community Board 8 has approved the Cornell Tech Campus plans and launched it one step further in NYC’s public land use review process. The plan for the 12-acre site now moves forward exactly one year after Cornell University, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, was selected by the City to develop the applied science and engineering campus. Eagerly anticipating the initiation of its “beta” class, Cornell Tech classes will begin in January of 2013 in Chelsea buildings that were provided to the school free of charge by Google while development of the campus continues. Pritzer Prize winning architect and design director at Morphosis Architects—Thomas Mayne—will be designing an academic building for the new campus along with other notable names such as Skidmore, Owings, and Merril and landscape architect James Corner of James Corner Field Operations. The new campus, which revealed updated renderings in October of this year, will encompass 2.1 million square feet of development, house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students, and will boast a net-zero academic center that produces as much energy as it consumes. Full build-out is expected for 2037 with the first phase—covering 790,000 square feet of development—being completed in 2017. Applications for Cornell Tech’s M. Eng program are currently being accepted.