Cornell Wins Bid to Build Roosevelt Island Campus

Written By Daniel Muhlenberg | December 19, 2011
Tram over east river

After 2 months of reviewing proposals from various universities to build a science and engineering school on Roosevelt Island, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that Cornell University has won the competition. This came to no one’s surprise after Stanford University withdrew their proposal 3 days ago; the 2 schools were widely considered to be the only ones under serious consideration, although Columbia University and NYU were also in the running. An anonymous donor gave $350 million towards Cornell’s bid to help build the campus, greatly enhancing the credibility of their bid.

The city held the competition in order to help make Manhattan a new silicon valley of sorts, one in which this school plays a pivotal role in being a magnet for entrepreneurs and high-tech start-ups. A new analysis by the New York City Economic Development Corporation estimates that over the next 30 years the campus will generate over $23 billion in economic activity and $1.4 billion in total tax revenue. Specifically, the EDC estimates that building the campus will create 20,000 construction jobs, 8,000 permanent jobs, and 600 new companies with 30,000 new jobs between them. In his announcement today, Bloomberg described these numbers as, “conservative estimates.” No wonder that the city lured schools by offering free land and up to $100 million in infrastructure development to the winner of the competition.

As for Roosevelt Island itself, the campus will change everything. Currently, Roosevelt Island is something of a NYC backwater that has barely any businesses and a lot of unfortunate Brutalist architecture. Along with the assurance of bringing in plenty of new businesses, students, and young professionals, the newfound popularity that is sure to come from the campus will in all probability lead to new luxury condos and rentals, adding yet another attractive neighborhood in Manhattan (or near it). Plus, the architecture for the new campus is striking: Based on the current renderings provided by Cornell, the science and engineering campus will consist of 8 buildings built in an angular, interlocking pattern. The city has not yet set a time-frame for the project's completion or opening, but the certainty of its arrival will definitely help Bloomberg's vision to make New York City the world's premier destination for high-tech companies.


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