Report: Cornell wins bid to build science campus in NYC

Dec 19, 2011

Updated, 3:14 p.m.

It's official - Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have won the right to build a tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is hosting a press conference with leaders from both schools, to herald the news.  

The schools will begin offering a program in 2012, in leased space, with the first phase of construction opening in 2017.  By the end of 2018, the school is predicting that it will have 300 students enrolled, taught by 70 faculty members.

Bloomberg outlined a series of elements that put the proposal over the edge, namely the aggressiveness of the scheme:

"[This plan] called for the  most students ... the most faculty ... and the most building space," said Bloomberg.

A $150 million pot of funding for start-ups that maintain activity in the city for three years also helped sweeten the deal.

Cornell president David Skorton said the deal is a "great vote of confidence ... for a dream that we have long held.  This is a story of connectivity, connectivity between people and their ideas, between researchers and business people, and students and their dreams."

Original post, 1:26 p.m.

Cornell has reportedly won a major competition to work with New York City to build an "applied sciences" campus.  

That's the word from the Associated Press, which received the information from a source that it declined to name.

Cornell announced on Friday that it had received a $350 million anonymous donation to support its bid. The university proposes to partner with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to build a campus for 2,000 students on Roosevelt Island.

Six other proposals were competing with Cornell, according to AP.

Seven universities and consortiums submitted bids to build a campus in exchange for nearly free city land and up to $100 million in city improvements. California's Stanford University withdrew its proposal on Friday, saying it had failed to find a way to ensure the success of its proposed campus in its talks with the city.

The mayor is making a formal announcement about the campus this afternoon at 2:30.  Cornell is streaming it.

Embedded video from Cornell University

At The Altantic's Cities blog, Eric Jaffe writes that "the real winner may be Roosevelt Island:"

The Bloomberg administration has promised $100 million in city funds to the competition winner for the purpose of infrastructure improvements. Much of that will presumably go toward transportation upgrades. Right now there are few good ways to reach Manhattan from Roosevelt Island: a single subway stop along the F line, or a recently modernized air tram, which runs but four times an hour during off-peak times. Only one bridge connects the island with the city, and that via Queens; the Queensboro Bridge linking Manhattan and that borough goes right over Roosevelt Island without an exit. In other words, if you want to take a cab from Manhattan back to Roosevelt late at night, you have to go into Queens first.

Stay tuned - we'll share more details as we learn them.