Cornell wins bid for NYC tech campus

Cornell University has produced renderings of the campus it plans to build with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology on Roosevelt Island. Rendering courtesy Cornell
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The new applied sciences campus that will be coming to the city may be on Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island, but state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said Tuesday the announcement of two universities planning to build on the island was great news for Long Island City.

“It’s going to mean a massive economic development over time in western Queens,” Gianaris said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that Cornell University and Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa were the winners of the mayor’s and the city Economic Development Corp.’s Applied Sciences NYC Plan.

The city set up a contest for universities to pledge to create a job-producing, higher education campus in exchange for free real estate and $100 million in city capital.

Bloomberg announced the winners at Manhattan’s Weill Cornell Medical College with Cornell President David Skorton and Technion President Peretz Lavie in a news conference that was beamed to Cornell students in Ithaca, N.Y. and Technion students in Israel.

The mayor also announced Cornell had received a $350 million donation in support of the project. Charles Feeny, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, announced he was the grantee on Atlantic’s website Monday.

A Roosevelt Island tech campus was heavily touted by western Queens officials, who believe a campus a bridge away from Long Island City could encourage technology startups and other growth in the community.

Gianaris said in his talks with Cornell leadership they indicated they intended to work with the community.

“This is a tremendous investment in the future of our city,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria).

The mayor said Cornell and Technion’s bid had the largest number of students, faculty and building space. He said their bid is expected to bring jobs and will act as a magnet for technology industry growth for the city.

“This is an endeavor with incredible potential,” Bloomberg said. “History will write that this is a game changing time in New York City.”

The universities plan to build a 2-million-square-foot grad school on Roosevelt Island. The first phase of the campus is scheduled to be completed before 2017, and it will house up to 2,500 students and about 280 faculty members by 2043. Cornell and Technion also plan to open a temporary, off-site campus in 2012.

Cornell said it expected the tech campus to create 30,000 permanent jobs through spin-offs, licenses and corporate growth; up to 20,000 construction jobs; and 8,000 permanent campus jobs.

“This is an exercise in inclusion and having all the ships rise in New York City,” Skorton said.

Cornell and Stanford University, which is in California, had both been vying to build a campus on Roosevelt Island, but Stanford dropped out Friday, saying in a statement that it decided building was not in its best interest.

“We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the city of New York, and we are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals,” Stanford University President John Hennessy said in a statement.

Bloomberg said he hoped Stanford and the city could work together in the future.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.


Updated 2:19 pm, December 22, 2011
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