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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Report From Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove To The Roosevelt Island Community - Come To The Monday, October 22 Community Board 8 Meeting To Learn More And Ask Questions

Cornell NYC Tech VP Cathy Dove Speaks At October 3 RIRA Meeting

Cornell NYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove sends this report to the Roosevelt Island community.
For those of you I haven’t yet met, I’m Cathy Dove, Vice President of Cornell Tech and a resident here on Roosevelt Island. Together with Dean Dan Huttenlocher, I’m very excited to be leading Cornell’s efforts to develop our new tech campus. I’m going to be using this column to periodically update Islanders on our vision, plans and progress.

It’s hard to believe that it has been less than a year since the City selected Cornell to build an applied sciences campus that will introduce a new graduate tech model and grow the tech sector in New York. Since January 2012, we have been in true “start- up” mode; hiring employees, finding space, and all the while ramping up plans for our future campus on Roosevelt Island. In the last few months, we’ve hired star faculty, moved into our temporary campus space donated by Google in Chelsea, launched a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and begun accepting applications for our “beta” class of computer science students, which will start in January.

In addition to these very visible activities, we’ve also been hard at work behind the scenes. On the academic side, together with our academic partner Technion, we’ve been designing a distinctive model of graduate tech education that will closely connect academia and industry to spur innovation and economic growth in New York City and beyond. In addition, we’ve also been spending a great deal of time crafting a campus plan for the Roosevelt Island site that will guide our project over the coming years, conducting a very thorough environmental review, and creating early design concepts for the first academic building. I am pleased that the appropriate city agencies have agreed that our planning is at a stage where we can now share this material with the community. This week we officially launched the seven-month public input process known as ULURP.

Ever since Cornell was chosen by Mayor Bloomberg in December to build the campus, we’ve been working hard to meet with as many members of the community as possible, and that effort will only intensify now as we begin official hearings with the community board, borough president, city planning commission and finally the full city council. We’re very much looking forward to a full dialogue on all aspects of the plan.

You can see current renderings of the campus here on Roosevelt Islander Online. Our goal is to create a publicly-accessible campus that stitches the Island together, connecting to the open space and circulation systems on the north and to the parks, Southpoint and Four Freedoms, on the southern tip of the Island. A central pedestrian path will welcome Islanders from the northwest corner of the campus, winding through the campus buildings and into a series of active public open spaces offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan and Queens skylines. The campus will feature a river to river experience, with open spaces pulling people in from the esplanade. The buildings will be social and welcoming, with public spaces on the ground floors, including a public café in the academic building that spills out into the open spaces. We want the campus to be a great new amenity for Roosevelt Island residents, a place that feels part of the community.

The elements of each phase of campus development are being designed to connect academia with industry to spur innovation and entrepreneurship, economic development, jobs and a growing tech sector in New York City. The first phase, due to open in 2017, will include all of the activities necessary to make the campus feel whole from day one, including an academic building, a residential building for students and faculty, a corporate co-location building for startups and tech companies looking to collaborate with the campus, and an executive education center with hotel facilities.

Design work is already underway on the first academic building by Pritzker Prize- winning architect Thom Mayne. We aspire to make this a net-zero energy building, one of the largest of its kind in the country. We are evaluating a number of ways to generate the energy needed to achieve this unique level of sustainability, including a canopy of solar panels that would be an exciting design feature in addition to serving an important function. I think you’d agree it’s the type of bold thinking that has always been at home here on Roosevelt Island.

This is an exciting time for Cornell Tech as well as for Roosevelt Island. We still have a long way to go before breaking ground in 2014, but the process is well underway. The first of many opportunities to hear more about all the details of the campus plan is coming up at the Community Board 8 meeting on October 22. I hope to see you there or at one of the other meetings during this review process. I’ll be back soon with another update on our progress and more information about Cornell Tech.