CornellNYC selects Architect for Net-Zero Tech Campus

Master Plan Schematic Design © Cornell University

Today, Cornell University has announced their selection of Thom Mayne and Morphosis to design the first academic building for the CornellNYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded the Roosevelt Island campus project to Cornell mid-December of last year. With plans to achieve net-zero, the campus is striving to become the new modern prototype for learning spaces worldwide.

“This project represents an extraordinary opportunity to explore the intersection of three territories: environmental performance, rethinking the academic workspace and the unique urban condition of Roosevelt Island,” Mayne said, as reported by Cornell University. “This nexus offers tremendous opportunities not only for CornellNYC Tech, but also for New York City.”

Continue reading for more.

Expected to break ground in 2014 and be completed by the start of the 2017 academic year, the landmark building will set the stage for the new CornellNYC Tech campus. Reflecting the mission and spirit of the new campus, Morphosis will strive to create a building that represents the new social nature of learning today and encourage spontaneous interactions between students and professionals of multiple backgrounds, thus fostering creativity and innovation. Additionally, the buildings will incorporate the latest environmental advances and attempt to achieve net-zero energy, featuring geothermal and solar power.

The 150,000-square-foot academic building is expected to cost about $150 million, which will be covered by a $350 million gift through an alumnus. It will be home to the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute and provide teaching and faculty office space.

Thom Mayne, Morphosis founder and design director and winner of the 2005 Pritzker Prize, will act as lead architect. He will team up with Arup, the New York and Los Angeles-based engineering firm, and deliver the first design drafts November 2012. A schematic design is due March 2013.

In December Cornell, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the yearlong competition to build the campus, beating teams that included one from Stanford University and City College of New York. The campus master plan is being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which was among the six finalists for the Cornell campus. The campus is expected to cost over $2 billion and serve more than 2,000 students. There will be more than two million square feet of buildings space created by three academic buildings, three residential buildings, three buildings for research and development, and a hotel and conference center.

As reported by Cornell University, Kent Kleinman, dean of Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning, explained the complex nature of this building: “The challenges that accompany the first phase of the campus are dauntingly multi-faceted: Design one of the largest net-zero energy academic buildings in the country; devise a creative architectural statement commensurate with the highest levels of innovation; accommodate programs that are changing with unprecedented rapidity; and, perhaps most critically, offer a compelling vision for a vibrant urbanity to inform future developments. And do it all within a very tight timeframe and modest budget. Simply put: No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis. It is a great choice for Cornell and for New York.”

Find more of Morphosis’ previous projects here on ArchDaily, including The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (2009).

Reference: Cornell University’s Chronicle Online, The New York Times

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "CornellNYC selects Architect for Net-Zero Tech Campus" 09 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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