We’re creating a campus on Roosevelt Island that’s unlike any ever created in higher education. It’s designed to embody the core of Cornell Tech’s vision to create a staging ground for what’s next: part space to explore the potential of technology, part urban nexus for fast-tracking tech solutions that have immediate relevance to New York City and the world.
The future home of Cornell Tech
Campus Design Principles
A river-to-river experience
The roadway serves as the east and west boundaries of the site. The adjacent esplanade provides nearly continuous public access to the waterfront, and serves as a primary means of pedestrian circulation around the island as well as shuttle and bike traffic.
The perimeter of the campus will extend from the esplanade and extensive green network of Roosevelt Island into the campus, encouraging public interaction and circulation paths to the Tech Walk.A ‘spine’ for pedestrians
A central ‘spine’ to connect the campus
A quarter-mile-long central spine at the heart of the campus will create urban-scale circulation for pedestrians, extending the Roosevelt Island's master plan to include all future buildings.
All buildings will be oriented to face outward to the Tech Walk and provide expansive views of both Manhattan and Queens from multiple angles. This future Tech Walk will unite the campus from north to south and serve as an optimal path connecting to the four corners of the campus to the rest of the island.
Active spaces, both inside and out
The lower floors of the buildings include both indoor and outdoor amenities to energize the campus and promote an environment that supports innovation. Buildings will feature transparent facades to encourage interaction between the campus and the public through the Tech Walk.
And between the public plaza in the center of campus and the numerous collaborative spaces along the tree-lined Tech Walk, the campus is as wide as the entire island.
Sustainability from the ground up
Cornell Tech presents an opportunity to set aspirational goals for sustainability from Day One. The campus has been designed to face the full arc of the sun and maximize solar energy and daylight, and each of the buildings will be constructed to meet at least LEED silver certification or higher.
During the course of a year, the campus itself will generate enough energy to run the First Academic Building.
Spaces optimized for connectivity
All campus buildings are positioned and planned to optimize connectivity and flexibility. The campus orients itself to the waterfront, pedestrian flows, urban views to the west and east, and solar orientation to ensure the comfort and productivity. And the Tech Walk will connect the campus to the larger island community at large.
Spaces both inside and out will help members of Cornell Tech community to engage with each other. Open floor workspaces, shared public spaces and transparent facades and interior walls are all part of a “radical transparency” for the campus.
The Design Team
Thom Mayne founded Morphosis as an interdisciplinary, collective practice involved in experimental design and research in 1972. He is co-founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Distinguished Professor at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design. Mayne's distinguished honors include the Pritzker Prize (2005) and the AIA Gold Medal (2013).
First Academic Building
This building will include innovative academic facilities designed for the Information Age, including state-of-the-art technology and net-zero energy aspirations. A café and terrace facing the campus plaza will be open to the public.
Principal, Field Operations
James Corner is a landscape architect and urban designer, and Founder of James Corner Field Operations. He is also Chair and Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Acclaimed projects include the High Line, New York; Tongva Park, Santa Monica; Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London; and Race Street Pier, Philadelphia.
The Campus Plaza
The "Tech Walk" is the centerpiece of the pedestrian spine of the campus. It will feature various outdoor spaces, benches, trees, and landscape and is accessible to the public. The completed campus will have over 2.5 acres of open public space.
Marion Weiss &
Co-Founders, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture
Marion Weiss is the Graham Chair Professor of Architecture at the Penn, and Michael Manfredi has been the Gensler Visiting Professor at Cornell. Known for the dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design, their firm’s projects including Penn’s Nanotechnology Center, Barnard’s Diana Center, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, and the National Mall’s Sylvan Theater, recast the public identity of institutional settings. Weiss/Manfredi received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award, Harvard University’s International V.R. Green Urban Design Prize, World Architecture Festival Nature Award, and their work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Smithsonian, and the Guggenheim Museum.
Designed to foster interactions and collaboration between the tech community and Cornell Tech students and faculty, the Corporate Co-Location building provides space for companies to exist right on campus. It is being developed in partnership with Forest City Ratner Companies.
Gary E. Handel
President, Handel Architects
Since founding Handel Architects in 1994, Gary Handel has emphasized that each design from the firm be an enriching and sustainable contribution to the urban environment. His work has since been recognized with numerous local and national awards and published internationally. A native of New York City, Gary is a Founding Board Member of Friends of the High Line and Board Member of The Tenement Museum.
Partner, Handel Architects
Blake Middleton’s designs have focused on hybrid-building typologies with complex programs set in sensitive historic city centers. In addition to mixed-use residential projects in New York, recent work includes award-winning designs for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, The Boston Conservatory, and the Santa Barbara Bowl. Blake is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a Board Member of the Riverside Park Conservancy.
The residential building is currently in its design phase; the above image is a representation of the building, not its current or final design. The building will include approximately 350 housing units for students, staff and faculty, with a mix of micro units, one bedrooms, two bedrooms, and three bedroom suites. Planned amenities include a gym, bike room, lounge, roof deck, multi-purpose, collaboration, and media rooms for residents. It is being developed in partnership with Hudson and Related Companies
Associate Director, Skidmore Owings & Merrill
An Associate Director in SOM’s New York office, Colin Koop is a strong advocate that every design explore the social and natural systems within the context of our larger urban ecology. This approach allows for the positioning of new ideas that holistically address the possibilities of site, program, place, and performance. His other ongoing projects in the New York City region include the 364,000-square-foot University Center at The New School (2014) as well as One World Trade Center (2014), and the Dia art museum’s new Chelsea galleries (2015). Colin’s international work similarly spans a range of project types, including the new 540 meter tall Guizhou Culture Tower (2018) and 60,000sm Hebin Theater Performing Arts Center (2018), both in China. Colin received a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Washington University.
The Master Plan for the Cornell Tech campus combines six key principles, including: a river-to-river experience, the North-South pedestrian spine (known as the Tech Walk), a diverse collection of open spaces, the importance of indoor and outdoor spaces, optimization of building use and performance, and a livable and sustainable campus.