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.
Posts tagged with "Technion":
This morning Cornell University unveiled more detailed renderings of their NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The latest plans for the graduate campus include a five story eco-friendly academic center designed by Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne and a campus layout by Skidmore Owings & Merrill. The roomy organization of this campus hub brings to mind the vast, expansive interiors of Silicon Valley, putting a priority on shared communal space over isolated classrooms. The building will be entirely energy self-sufficient, utilizing solar panels, geothermal wells, and water turbines, according to Cornell. Cornell NYC Tech has already started to accept applications for the spring 2013 school year, despite a 2017 expected completion date for its first construction phase. In the mean time Google has offered up the school’s first students some spacious accommodation in their Chelsea NYC headquarters, which will be used as a temporary campus home.
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.