Cornell Tech Campus Framework Plan

Cornell Tech
Cornell Tech
Cornell Tech
  • Client Cornell University
  • Expertise Urban Design + Planning
  • Region North America
  • Location New York, New York, United States

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2017
  • Design Finish Year 2013
  • Size Site Area: 12.40 acres
  • Awards
    2019, Award of Excellence in Development: Finalist, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY) 2018, A+ Finalist - Architecture +Collaboration, Architizer 2020, AIA NAtional, AIA National 2020, Design Award of Merit, American Society of Landscape Architects 2020, Institute Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design, American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2019, National Design Award of Honor, Society of American Registered Architects 2019, Global Award for Excellence, Urban Land Institute (ULI) 2019, Shortlist: Best Urban Design Project, LEAF Awards 2017, New York Design Awards: Gold, DrivenXDesign
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED ND Platinum, ND, Platinum
  • Collaborators
    Philip Habib & Associates Tishman Construction Corporation Karen Backus Real Estate, Inc. Sirefman Ventures James Corner Field Operations AKF Group LLC Robert Silman Associates Two Twelve Fried Frank In Posse Jaros, Baum & Bolles Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. DeSimone Consulting Engineers Cerami & Associates RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists Pentagram Gleeds Brandston Partnership Inc.
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2017
  • Design Finish Year 2013
  • Size Site Area: 12.40 acres
  • Awards
    2019, Award of Excellence in Development: Finalist, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY) 2018, A+ Finalist - Architecture +Collaboration, Architizer 2020, AIA NAtional, AIA National 2020, Design Award of Merit, American Society of Landscape Architects 2020, Institute Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design, American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2019, National Design Award of Honor, Society of American Registered Architects 2019, Global Award for Excellence, Urban Land Institute (ULI) 2019, Shortlist: Best Urban Design Project, LEAF Awards 2017, New York Design Awards: Gold, DrivenXDesign
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED ND Platinum, ND, Platinum
  • Collaborators
    Philip Habib & Associates Tishman Construction Corporation Karen Backus Real Estate, Inc. Sirefman Ventures James Corner Field Operations AKF Group LLC Robert Silman Associates Two Twelve Fried Frank In Posse Jaros, Baum & Bolles Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. DeSimone Consulting Engineers Cerami & Associates RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists Pentagram Gleeds Brandston Partnership Inc.

A campus for the city

In collaboration with James Corner Field Operations, Cornell University, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the City of New York, SOM created the master plan and served as the master architect for Cornell Tech, a new applied sciences university on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Far more than an academic setting, the campus is conceived to catalyze the growth of New York’s emerging technology, research, and innovation industries. The school is free of academic departments—bringing together an open and collaborative community of designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and scientists who are blurring the boundary between the academic and commercial world.

Cornell Tech
© Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM

Bringing new life to Roosevelt Island

Such an ambitious program requires a campus that actively fosters interaction and creativity. SOM’s scheme emphasizes the open nature of the pedagogy with a boundary-free, 12.4-acre campus knit into the promenades and green spaces of Roosevelt Island, developed with James Corner Field Operations serving as the open space master planner and landscape architect. The campus engages with the esplanade and extraordinary water frontage of the island, offering expansive views of the Queens and Manhattan skylines.

Cornell Tech
© Iwan Baan

An urban layout

The campus layout is structured via a central, meandering pedestrian boulevard called Techwalk, which unites the pedestrian pathways of the campus and connects Roosevelt Island’s Main Street with Four Freedoms Park. Buildings and outdoor rooms are organized along this central spine, and provide an array of uniquely programmed spaces that support a tapestry of uses for all kinds of people. The campus is a microcosm of the surrounding city, with apartments, work areas, academic spaces, restaurants, hotels, event spaces, and other outdoor amenities. Generous parcels shaped by pathways running from river to river provide ample space for future construction, and for developers and designers to fulfill individual design briefs that will support new program requirements. With the first phase completed in 2017, the campus will continue to expand until it reaches 2 million gross square feet.

Cornell Tech
© Iwan Baan

A resilient campus

Sustainability was a driving force behind the design. The master planning team managed the process of LEED certification for all aspects of the development as part of a holistic approach. To protect the campus from rising sea levels and storms, Techwalk—where all primary building entrances are located—rises 5-7 feet above the 500-year flood elevation and the Category 3 hurricane flood elevation. Biofiltration gardens capture and clean stormwater, and a 40,000-gallon underground tank captures rain for graywater reuse. The master planning included locating 90 ground source heat wells, and on the highest ridge, a central utility plant designed by SOM provides the campus with an electrical spot network system—one that will use renewable energy sources, such as fuel cells, for decades to come.

Cornell Tech Campus Framework Plan reconceives the role of the university in the city through economic, social, and environmental means. The design is a catalyst with positive impact well beyond its boundaries.

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