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.