Roosevelt Island and Cornell Tech, Together at Last

This week, Cornell Tech celebrated the official opening of our campus on Roosevelt Island with a dedication event attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former mayor Mike Bloomberg, Cornell University President Martha Pollack, Technion President Peretz Lavie and many more valued partners and stakeholders who have helped us get to this momentous occasion.

Cornell Tech is the first campus ever built for the digital age, bringing together academia and industry to create pioneering leaders and transformational new research, products, companies and social ventures. And we couldn’t be more proud to be doing this work on Roosevelt Island, with its long history of innovation.

In 2011, Cornell Tech was named the winner of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Administration’s visionary Applied Sciences Competition, designed with the goal of diversifying the economy and creating a national hub for tech. Of all the sites New York City offered during the competition, we chose Roosevelt Island because of its great accessibility and strong community.

We couldn’t have gotten to this moment without the incredible support and advocacy from Roosevelt Island residents and our incredible elected officials who knew this would be the perfect home for New York City’s new destination for tech and innovation.

Cornell Tech started up in a temporary space generously provided by Google and has already graduated more than 300 masters and doctoral students, with most entering the New York City tech sector after graduation by joining local companies or starting their own. This fall, we have approximately 300 students and 30 faculty members on campus.

Cornell Tech’s mission of collaboration and innovation is reflected in the physical design of our campus. It is a new type of urban campus that provides space to think, but is also integrated—in both mission and design—with the city. The campus has some of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings in the world.

The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center is the first academic building on campus, a departure from traditional academic facilities with a variety of spaces designed to support different learning modes, including flexible spaces to encourage collaboration as well as private work spaces, adapting open plan offices from the tech world to the academic arena. The Bloomberg Center aspires to be among the largest net-zero energy buildings in the United States, with all of its power generated on campus. The art-in-architecture is also a key component of the Bloomberg Center, with newly commissioned works throughout the building. The building also features a space designed specifically to house a Works Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project mural by Ilya Bolotowsky from the decommissioned Goldwater Memorial Hospital, as well as a ground-floor cafe that is open to the public. Stay tuned for information about public tours we will be offering of the art in the building.

The Bridge is a first-of-its-kind building where an extraordinary mix of cutting-edge companies from diverse industries have the opportunity to work alongside groundbreaking Cornell academic teams: from recent Cornell Tech graduates hustling to commercialize a new idea, to start-ups on the verge of explosive growth and established companies developing leading edge technologies and products. Tech and investment firms Two Sigma, Citigroup, and Ferrero International S.A. will all be taking space in the building for digital age innovation.

The House is the tallest and largest residential Passive House high-rise in the world. Passive House is the strict international building standard that drastically reduces energy consumption while creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment for a fraction of residents’ usual energy costs. Cornell faculty, staff, and students live at The House, giving the campus 24/7 activity.

The open space anchors the campus, fostering collaboration and innovation while simultaneously inviting the public into the campus. The campus is a river-to-river experience, engaging Roosevelt Island’s esplanade and extraordinary water frontage while maximizing views of Manhattan and Queens.

At Cornell Tech, we are committed to having an impact beyond our campus, and to build and diversify New York City’s tech talent pipeline so that more people can share in the rapid growth of the tech economy. We have partnered with more than a dozen local schools, including, as many of you know, PS/IS 217. To date, Cornell Tech has impacted over 5,000 students and 350 teachers in the city. And, in partnership with CUNY, Cornell Tech’s Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York (WiTNY) program provides the access, incentives, and support needed for girls and women to succeed in the tech industry.

To date, the curriculum has been implemented at more than a dozen CUNY campuses with 2,000 students impacted each year.

And we’re not stopping here. Now that our campus is officially open, our impact on the island and the city at large will only grow. We are so proud to be able to call all of you our neighbors, and we look forward to our continued collaboration together!

Jane Swanson

Community Liaison, Cornell Tech

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