Ferry Culture

CORNELL TECH GETS READY FOR ITS BIG MOVE TO ROOSEVELT ISLAND

What’s going on with the 12-acre campus?

By AMY LENNARD GOEHNER
cornell tech roosevelt island construction

When New York City set out to create a high-tech hotbed to rival Silicon Valley back in 2008, officials knew the job had to start by partnering with a university to create tomorrow’s talent. They announced a competition, and the big ideas started rolling in. Out of some 18 applicants, Cornell University, in conjunction with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, had the winner: a 12-acre, energy efficient campus on Roosevelt Island, with a $350 million gift to underwrite construction and $150 million venture fund for start-up businesses.

Ground was broken in May 2015, and now, construction on the first three buildings is well under way. When Phase I is finished (scheduled for next July), students and visitors will be able to get to the campus the old fashioned way (via Roosevelt Island Tram). Then when the new Astoria ferry route is up and running — the city has said the five-borough ferry plan will launch in June 2017 — they will be able to take an approximately 14 minute ferry from East 34th Street to Roosevelt Island.

UrbanCoast.nyc checked in with Cornell to see how construction is going and what visitors will find when they arrive at the new ferry landing, which will be slightly north of the Queensboro Bridge. Here’s what you need to know:

The school opened for business in 2012, with a temporary campus in the Google building in Chelsea. And it’s already incubating incubators. So far, 160 Masters and PhD students have enrolled in Cornell Tech, and they have launched 29 startups, including Aatonomy, which can give robots autonomous capabilities, and One Book, which brings digital books to life with animation and interactive features.

Yes, the public is invited to explore. Twenty percent of the campus will be public open space, a Cornell spokeswoman tells UrbanCoast. “We will encourage all New Yorkers to visit. And it goes both ways we expect students, faculty, and staff to visit the local restaurants and businesses . . . and become a part of the community.”

There are three buildings in Phase I, including a 270-foot tall residence for students and faculty. This will be the world’s first high-rise “Passive House,” meeting the highest standards for energy saving. Among other features, the building will be insulated with a special metal so that will need little or no air conditioning or heat. (Picture no Con Ed bills.) A classroom building and workplace designed to pair established tech companies with start-ups will also debut.

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cornell tech roosevelt island ferry map
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