The innovation offered by a new tech campus on Roosevelt Island is not limited to New York’s technology sector but the design one, as well. Almost every bid had soaring renderings and flashy flythroughs, most notably the winning entry from Cornell. Now the upstate university has announced six of the world’s top firms, including a few local favorites, are in the running to design the new tech campus.
SOM, the firm that designed Cornell’s original entry and one of the world’s largest, made the cut. They have designed everything from the Lever House to the masterplan for Columbia’s new Manhattanville Campus. Local stars Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, responsible for the High Line and Lincoln Center, were tapped, as was New York fanboy Rem Koolhaas and his Office of Modern Architecture. He has yet to build in the city, but he just completed a celebrated expansion to Cornell’s architecture school.
Steven Holl is another local boy on the list, one of the dean’s of New York architecture. He has designed a philosophy department offices for NYU, is completing a sports center for Columbia at the northern tip of Manhattan and is perhaps best known for his funky residence halls at MIT. Morphosis, run by LA’s Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne, knows a thing about New York campuses, having built the new metallic monolith for Cooper Union in Astor Place. And the ostensible dark horse is Philadelphia’s Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a firm that makes some sense given that their most famous work is as designers of all the Apple Stores. Perhaps a giant glass cube for Roosevelt Island?
“We were incredibly impressed by the quality represented in the 43 firms originally considered for designing our core building,” CornellNYC Tech Vice President Cathy Dove said in a release. “Our goal is that this first building exemplify sustainable design principles, represent a forward looking attitude and form vibrant and contemplative public spaces that can be expanded through future buildings.”
On the sustainability front, the first building will be designed as “net zero,” meaning it uses no grid energy, generating or limiting its own use through strategies ranging from solar panels to thermal wells to the right kind of window shades and light bulbs. Successive buildings will not be quite up to that standard but will at least meet LEED Silver standards, a mid-range sustainability benchmark grade—think of it as a compact car but not a hyrbid.