Tag Archives: Cornell University

Construction on Cornell Tech campus begins on Roosevelt Island

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre. Renderings courtesy Weiss/Manfredi

Construction kicked off Tuesday on the $2 billion Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech campus, which many predict will be a feeder of skilled entrepreneurs for the western Queens technology community.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, were both in attendance to support the building of the applied sciences campus, which will span 12 acres on Roosevelt Island and house 2,000 graduate students and hundreds of faculty and staff. The first phase of the campus is expected to open in the summer of 2017.

“Mr. Mayor, you remember a phrase from a great American movie, ‘if you build it, they will come’? I think this epitomizes it,” de Blasio said to his predecessor. “I think Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to create an environment for the tech sector had an extraordinary impact. This is one of the signature elements and we are proud to be building upon that tradition.”

Cornell Tech, which was selected by the city’s Economic Development Corporation over 17 other proposed schools in 2011, has been running out of Google’s Chelsea building since 2013.

In May, 73 master’s students in computer science and business and two Ph.D. students graduated from Cornell Tech. More than half of the graduates stayed in New York for jobs or to begin their own startups, which lends to the belief that the new school will energize the growing tech community in the city, which has spread to Long Island City.

Just south of the Queensboro Bridge, the 2-million-square-foot tech campus will have four buildings with innovative technology in the first phase of development.

Bloomberg, who pushed for the tech campus on Roosevelt Island during his tenure, donated $100 million through Bloomberg Philanthropies to help build the school. Cornell will rename the First Academic Building, which will now be called The Bloomberg Center.

The center, which is designed by Morphosis Architects, will have classrooms and private work spaces.

Another building on the campus called The Bridge at Cornell Tech, which was designed by architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi and built by Forest City Ratner Companies, will house startups and established companies.

The 26-story residential building on the campus, designed by Handel Architects, will be the tallest building on the campus and it will meet strict international energy consumption Passive House standards. Faculty members and students will live in the 350 apartments in the building.

The campus will also have the Verizon Executive Education Center, which will be used for conferences and meetups, and there will be 2.5 acres of open space for the school community.



Raccoons to be vaccinated in Queens, Brooklyn to help prevent rabies

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYC Health Department


Wildlife biologists will distribute oral rabies vaccine in parts of Queens and Brooklyn this month to help prevent the spread of the virus among raccoons, according to the city’s Health Department.

The Health Department decided to take action after the continuing identification of raccoons and other animals with rabies in all five boroughs of New York City. Specifically, two cases of infected raccoons arose in Brooklyn this year. The most recent reported cases in Queens were a raccoon and opossum in 2010. In New York City and New York State, rabies occurs primarily in raccoons, skunks, bats and skunks.

The Health Department, and wildlife biologists with the United States Department of Agriculture and Cornell University are hoping the vaccine distribution will decrease those numbers. Cornell received state funding to pursue this program in New York City and it is an expansion of a program being conducted in Long Island and parts of upstate New York.

When brought to Queens and south Brooklyn, fixed bait stations will be placed in several wooded areas, parks, public green spaces, and even private properties with the owner’s permission.


The vaccination being distributed is specifically for raccoons, and it will help to further limit the spread of rabies to other animals, including pets. Although it is not harmful to pets, and will not cause rabies, it can cause vomiting if several baits are consumed. In the case that pets do find it, do not try to take it away from them to avoid being bitten and exposed to the vaccine.

The bait itself will not harm people. But in rare instances, exposure to the liquid can cause a rash. In the unlikely event someone comes in contact with the liquid, wash his or her hands with warm, soapy water, talk to a doctor, and notify the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

For the raccoons, vaccinating them is harmless, and is used in many other U.S. locations.

Rabies, a viral disease that infects the central nervous system of mammals, can be fatal to humans unless treatment is administered soon after exposure.

There have been no human cases of rabies in New York City for more than 50 years.



‘Party Wall’ to debut at MoMA PS1 Warm Up summer music series

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of CODA

Once again, the heat won’t be the only thing warming up Long Island City this summer.

The 16th edition of MoMA PS1’s Warm Up summer music series and dance party will kick off June 29 and take place every Saturday through September 7.

More than entertainment, the series also acts as an architectural exhibit.

The winner of the annual Young Architects Program provides shade and seating for those attending the series each summer in the modern art museum’s outdoor courtyard.

The 2013 pick, “Party Wall,” by Ithaca-based experimental design and research office CODA, will combine function and innovative design like the previous year’s winners. But it also will have an eco-friendly twist—woven wooden panels made from recycled skateboard scraps.

“At CODA, we don’t know what we’re going to end up with, but we have a certain way we approach design projects, and that is to look very closely at the site,” said CODA principal founder Caroline O’Donnell.

She got her first look at the future site of “Party Wall” when she came to the U.S. for her master’s degree in 2004.
“One of the first things I did [when I came to America] was go to PS1,” said the Irish-born O’Donnell.

About four years later she started teaching at Cornell University, where she is currently an assistant professor of architecture.

The same year she came to the school, she started CODA.

After successfully competing in several architectural competitions, CODA was nominated and later chosen as one of five finalists to submit designs for the MoMA PS1 Warm Up 2013 project.

Finalists had to create a temporary outdoor installation that provided shading and seating for attendees, had a water feature and addressed environmental issues, such as sustainability.

This year, architects also had to create a design that could be used for other events and programs in addition to the music series, said O’Donnell.

CODA tackled these requirements and beyond.

Many former winners used a canopy as shade, she said, but the CODA team thought there were other ways to create it, and that was one reason they chose a wall.

They also saw a wall as an ideal multi-functional element.

“We were interested in ‘how the wall could do more than just be a wall,’” said O’Donnell.

Panels will detach from the lower section of “Party Wall”’s façade and will be used as benches and communal tables during Warm Up and other events.

O’Donnell wanted to use a material that was sustainable or had a future life for the detachable seating, and first thought of recycled plastic chairs, but those were not in the budget.

With the help of the Cornell Center for Materials Research, she found Comet, an Ithaca eco-friendly skateboard company.

The manufacturer donated uncut boards for the seating and boards after they are cut into the skateboards, which will be woven together to make the façade.

These woven pieces of reclaimed wood will also help create the structure’s “micro-stages.”

“Party Wall” will also feature pools of water that will serve as cooling stations. These can be covered for additional staging or shading.

“It doesn’t just have to do one thing. It has to do many things,” said O’Donnell.



‘Practice Makes Perfect’ for LIC High School grad

| Phertling@queenscourier.com


Karim Abouelnaga believes so strongly that “practice makes perfect” he named the non-profit he created just that.

Abouelnaga, 20, a senior at Cornell University and graduate of Long Island City High School, created an intensive summer education program for elementary school children. The pilot program kicked off last summer in Long Island City, where he is from.

His parents emigrated to the United States from Egypt in the 1980s. Originally, they planned for Karim and his brothers to one day run their family store, Little Egypt.

But during his freshmen year of high school, Abouelnaga’s father was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma. Without life insurance, the family resorted to selling all the store’s assets, as well as their home.

“That was my first realization of what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” said Abouelnaga. “The family business was no longer an option.”

He quickly began to focus on his education. At the end of his sophomore year, Abouelnaga paired up with mentors from the “REACH- Rewarding Achievements” non-profit organization. It was a move that provided guidance in the right direction and added much needed value to his educational experience.

After finishing high school with a 97 average, Abouelnaga went on to spend a semester at Baruch College, where he had a 4.0 GPA. The next semester, he transferred to Cornell University, where he is now a rising senior in the School of Hotel Administration.

“Practice Makes Perfect” was founded in 2011 with a group of his friends at the university, but the foundations were laid at Baruch. An ambitious adviser there made Abouelnaga aware of the United States achievement gap, which costs the country between $310 and $525 billion every year. The gap “refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students,” according to Education Week.

This is what inspired Abouelnaga to come up with a plan that could improve education for low-income, inner city families.

After coming across a few ideas, Abouelnaga found it possible to create an intensive summer education program for elementary school children. The LIC pilot program was held in a classroom from Monday through Friday, where underachieving fourth graders were paired with ambitious ninth graders. As a result, children gained four percent in reading skills, six percent in math, and the summer learning loss was eliminated all together. The program also hired college interns to supervise while experiencing inner city teaching.

This year, Abouelnaga planned on expanding the summer program to two new sites in New York City. In order to do so, he was hit with the task of raising triple the money.

On August 5, he competed in the 25th Annual Central Park Triathlon a quarter-mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and three mile run — in order to raise a goal of $10,000.

A total of 171 donors raised $10,450 for his organization. A Trek 2200 bicycle, valued at nearly $2,000, was also donated by Brickwell Cycling and Multisports to support the effort.

He finished second place in the 18-24 age group and ninth overall.

As a result of all the donations, “Practice Makes Perfect” was able to have classes at Long Island City High School, Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School in Brooklyn and Harlem’s Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School this summer.

College interns, along with the ninth grade mentors, now do community service on Saturday afternoons as part of the organizations new “Serving our Streets” program. They were able to donate 1,000 articles of clothing and more than 500 pounds of food citywide.

“Practice Makes Perfect” was recognized at the 5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative University Conference, which selects the top 16 college commitments worldwide.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who also competed in the triathlon, has also reached out to Abouelnaga in the hopes of expanding “Practice Makes Perfect.”


The Next Startup Destination: Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


With the new technology campus coming to Roosevelt Island, Queens is poised to become a destination for startups. Startups are newly created companies, often technology oriented, with the potential to be the next big Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare.

Why will Queens be the new place for startups? Queens sits adjacent to Roosevelt Island and has plenty of affordable space (in contrast to neighboring Manhattan). When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced in December that Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology had won the bid for a partnership with the city to develop a brand-new applied sciences campus, I knew that the economic impact would be tremendous, not only on Roosevelt Island, but also in nearby Long Island City and in other parts of Queens.

As a member of the City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committees, I recognize that the tech campus will create tens of thousands of new jobs. It is estimated that about 600 companies will be derived from the tech campus, creating as many as 30,000 additional jobs in startups. Over time, those numbers can escalate.

If we capitalize on the investments that the city and the universities are making, we can render Queens the new tech capital of the world. Though Roosevelt Island will be home to the new science campus, the potential for economic growth extends far beyond the island’s borders. While there will surely be new jobs, housing, and businesses on Roosevelt Island, the spillover effect will bring benefits right into our own backyard. Tech campus graduates, professors, and researchers are likely to set up shop in Queens. They are among today’s most brilliant minds, and they are the kind of people who come up with the transformative ideas that yield business success.

Think of Jet Blue Airways, based in Queens, which started in the late 1990s and quickly brought big changes to the air travel industry. Or take Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios, New York City’s largest full-service film and television production facility, which is contributing to the booming local film industry. When the entrepreneurs are ready to bring their ideas to market, they will set up offices in the downtowns of Long Island City, Flushing, and Jamaica. Long Island City is already home to film and television studios, industrial space, museums, and nightlife; LaGuardia’s two planned dormitories will bring hundreds of young people to the vibrant neighborhood. Downtown Jamaica has a college, cultural institutions, and unrivaled access to public transportation; it is well positioned to accommodate new businesses.

In February, while visiting Israel with several of my Council colleagues, I saw firsthand what has come to be known as the startup nation. It is no secret that Israel is moving forward with an economy that is the place for startups, with the largest number in the world, surpassing even Japan and China. When ambitious individuals start new companies, they provide a boost for the local economy as well as for their own futures. Queens can follow the same path that Israel took to startup stardom.

Innovation once led the United States to the forefront of the world economy, and it can take us there again, with Queens leading the way.

Weprin is a member of the City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committees


Smart Move: Cornell University coming to Roosevelt Island

| smosco@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office

Just days after the upstate Ivy League school received a $350 million gift from an anonymous donor, Cornell University was selected as the winning bid to bring an applied science school to the city.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cornell University President David Skorton and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie announced a partnership on Monday, December 19 to build a two-million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island as part of the Applied Sciences NYC initiative.

Cornell will join with Technicon to build NYCTech Campus – pairing together two of the world’s top institutions in the fields of science, engineering, technology and research.

“Thanks to this outstanding partnership and groundbreaking proposal from Cornell and the Technion, New York City’s goal of becoming the global leader in technological innovation is now within sight,” said Bloomberg. “By adding a new state-of-the-art institution to our landscape, we will educate tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and create the jobs of the future. This partnership has so much promise because we share the same goal: to make New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce.”

The new campus will cost more than $2 billion and will be comprised of classrooms, labs, conference centers, housing and more for 2,000 graduate students. The university intends to build quickly, and start classes by next September.

“Cornell University and our extraordinary partner, The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, are deeply gratified to have the opportunity to realize Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for New York City: to prepare tomorrow’s expanding talent pool of tech leaders and entrepreneurs to work with the city’s key industries in growing tomorrow’s innovation ecosystem,” said Cornell president Skorton. “Starting today, we are going to put our plan to work, tapping into our extensive connections throughout the city and build a truly 21st Century campus to fuel the creation of new businesses and new industries throughout the city for decades to come.”

Prior to commencement of construction on Roosevelt Island, Cornell/Technion plans to open in an off-site location in 2012, with the first phase of their permanent Roosevelt Island home expected to open by no later than 2017. By 2027, the campus will have expanded to over 1.3 million square feet. Cornell/Technion has agreed to a 99-year lease for the Roosevelt Island site, with an option to purchase the land at the end of the term for $1. Cornell will develop and own the campus itself, and will assume financial responsibility for its establishment and operations.

According to the New York Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the campus alone will help create up to 20,000 construction jobs and up to 8,000 permanent jobs. More importantly, the campus is expected to generate nearly 600 spin-off companies over the projection period – expected to create up to an additional 30,000 permanent jobs.

Stanford pulls out of applied science campus consideration

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Stanford University – one of the institutions in the running to build an applied sciences campus in New York City – has withdrawn its application, the school announced in a statement.

“After several weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders and the Stanford Board of Trustees have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity,” the statement read.

Stanford was one of two schools – Cornell University being the other – which if chosen planned to build the campus on Roosevelt Island.

“The university could not be certain that it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus,” said Stanford’s President John Hennessy.

A university is expected to be selected in January.  The candidates include Amity University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell, New York University and New York Genome Center/Mount Sinai School of Medicine/Rockefeller University/SUNY Stony Brook.