Cornell University has named 2005 Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as architect for the first building at its Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island called the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. The selection should overshadow some sour grapes that were emanating from Stanford in the past few days regarding their losing bid. Mayne bested an all-star list, including Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, and SOM. The choice of Mayne, whose iconic building 41 Cooper Square still jams traffic at Astor Place, hints that Cornell is looking for a traffic stopper of its own on the East River. "It was a nice list; all the usual talent, but I knew we had a good shot," said Mayne, on his way back to his second home base in LA, "because I could speak intelligently to their three main areas of interest: an innovative educational environment; connective urbanism; sustainability. I can walk the walk." Cornell is developing the site with a proposal prepared by SOM, but there was no mention of the that firm in today's press release, though they remain the master planner for the project. Today's announcement was all about the next step, with Cornell’s dean of architecture, art, and planning, Kent Kleinman praising Morphosis: "No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis.” As AN reported soon after the Mayor announced the winning bid, SOM's ground work tried to establish that the main 150,000 square foot building would not only be a net-zero building, but, in the words of SOM principal Roger Duffy, "not be an object building." Mayne said that the first meetings on plan and program were only now taking place but he said that "nothing is fixed at this point; it needs to be open-ended." The notion of a prescriptive master plan, he noted, went out with Victor Gruen in the 70s. Morphosis will work with Arup as the engineer on the first building, which the team will design to meet a net-zero energy goal; James Corner is on board for landscape. The south end of the island could likely become an architectural playground, with more RFPs soon going out for the other Tech Campus buildings and the soon-to-be completed Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn. Saying the project had come along at just the right moment, Mayne enthused about the opportunities ahead: "The old campus was about the yard or the square. This wants a new paradigm, someplace that is both contained and not contained; simultaneously isolated and completely connected. I love those kind of dualities."
Posts tagged with "Roosevelt Island":
Multiple factors helped the Cornell/Technion team win what is shaping up to be Mayor Bloomberg’s favorite super-scale legacy project. Stanford, the only real competition, withdrew; a windfall of a $350 million donation blew in; local Cornell alums pulled out the stops with petitions. High on that list is SOM’s preliminary design proposing a net-zero building and a permeable landscape, developed with Field Operations, woven in, over, and into multiple structures lending an interactive and public character to the entire campus. This wholly sustainable, radically accessible design plan has become a signature of the project as the city ambitiously strives to become an East Coast high tech start-up incubator bar none. And yet it is unclear if SOM will remain on the job. Amidst rumors that the same Cornell alumni who helped get the prize now want to see a Cornell architect get the job, Cornell administrators close to the project were vague when asked if the SOM team would be seeing the project through. “SOM has served us fantastically well,” said Kent Kleinman, the dean of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP). “The next phase will start immediately and proceed according to our standard RFP process. Our facilities department has to get its arms around the whole thing, but it’s fair to say, it’s wide open. The last word has not been spoken.” When asked about SOM’s response to news of the win, the dean said he had not spoken to the architects as of four days after the award was announced. There is no time to waste given that Cornell has made a commitment to have a completed design in hand by 2015 and the campus built by 2017. Last week, SOM partner Roger Duffy spoke of Cornell/Technion’s success as the result of strong ideas. The challenge for the architects, he said, was “to design high flexibility and remove all impediments to collaboration and the flow of information. We emphasized lateral connections, rather than stacked, in order to mimic how the tech industry likes to work. Facebook and Google have warehouse set-ups where everyone is on a single level, offices are open. We wanted to communicate that sense of open information exchange and make it instantly apparent in the design.” Such an approach implies huge floor plates that would have eaten up the site, eviscerated public space and blocked daylight. And so the design team came up with the idea of a multi-story plinth with few walls or barriers and with, as Duffy put it, “the landscape rolled up and over so it’s possible to actually walk the building.” The proposal to be one of the largest net-zero buildings in the country would require aggressive sustainable gestures, starting but not ending with the largest photovoltaic array in the city. “This will not be an object building,” Duffy said. Whether it will be an SOM building, at this point, remains to be seen.
With his hand essentially forced by a hasty withdraw of Stanford on Friday, and the hugely enticing carrot of a $350 million gift from Duty-Free billionaire and Cornell alum Charles Feeney, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Monday that the Cornell team will be building the NYC Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island. The terms "game changer" and "transformative" were bandied about with regularity throughout the mayor's midday press conference, which was streamed live on the net to the delight of Cornell's partnering campus, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. The Israeli students' digitally lapsed cheering added a techy touch. The mayor said the plan was the boldest and most ambitious of the entries. Ultimately, the two million square foot campus will include housing for 2,500 students and 280 faculty members. A 150,000 square foot net-zero building just south of the Queensboro Bridge on the 10-acre site of Goldwater Hospital promises to be “the largest net-zero energy building in the eastern United States.” The effort was praised for its community inclusiveness with over a half a million square feet of open space to be designed by Field Operations, $150 million in start up capital for spin-off businesses, and public school programming for 10,000 students. SOM's green roofed net-zero building may have been the engineering coup de gras that put the other teams out of the running, but the waterfront access won over many. For now, inclusiveness may have to stand in for connectedness. The island has one subway stop on the F line and a somewhat recently upgraded air tram. The Queensboro bridge sweeps right over it. A 2009 report on Roosevelt Island's accessibility (AccessRI) commissioned by NY State Senator Jose Serrano and conducted by the Hunter College Department of Urban Affairs and Planning found that the existing infrastructure is in need of repair and already stretched to capacity. Infrastructure upgrades by the city to the tune of $100 million are part of the competition offerings. Noting that the current residents on the island "are struggling with a myriad of issues that range from problems caused by aging and neglected infrastructure to demographic and social changes" coupled with "perceptions of inadequate governance that result in the feeling that their concerns are ignored and will never be addressed," AccessRI called for legislation not only to improve the island's physical connections on and between the island and the city but also to restructure its governance. Currently, the island is owned by the city but operated by a state-chartered corporation, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a set-up that island residents complained lacked transparency and accessibility. At Monday's press conference, Mayor Bloomberg joked that he looked forward to seeing increased water taxi service on the East River and all around Roosevelt Island. But it will take more than water taxis to make Roosevelt Island and the NYTech Campus a tangible success story. With additional reporting by Tom Stoelker.
In a surprise move Stanford University announced today that they are withdrawing their bid to build a tech campus on Roosevelt Island. In a statement, the university said that several weeks' worth of negotiations prompted the Board of Trustees to determine that the East Coast expansion was not in their best interest. "We are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals," wrote Stanford president John Hennessy. The $200 million proposal with a master plan by Ennead was largely considered a front runner until this afternoon. The campus developed in a partnership with City College was to build more than 1.9 million square feet on the site now occupied by the Goldwater Hospital that would have brought housing for 200 profs and 2,000 students. While president Hennessy promised an accelerated launch—and a pledge of $1.5 bllion from a ten-year capital campaign—back in October, the plan seems to have fizzeled under pressure from students. "I applaud the mayor's bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into a reality," said Hennessy. "Stanford was very excited to participate in the competition, and we were honored to be selected as a finalist. We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the city of New York." The San Jose Mercury News noted that "Hennessy had cautioned that unless Stanford could get guarantees that it could build what it needs to build, plans will be abandoned." In a flurry of statements that followed, both the city and City College looked for the silver lining. City College noted that the two institutions established a "strong on-going relationship during this process." And Julie Wood from the mayor's office essentially added that the show must go on. “We are in serious negotiations with several of the other applicants, each of whom has a game-changing project queued up. We look forward to announcing a winner soon.” That leaves the Cornell proposal with a team led by SOM as the only other contender for the Roosevelt Island site.