Silicon Alley U
Silicon Alley U
It wasn’t all politicos and power brokers at the ribbon cutting for the FDR Four Freedoms Park gathered at the tip of Roosevelt Island earlier this week. Cornell had a strong showing, too, since their new tech campus will be the park’s neighbor to the north within a few years. Cornell president and jockey David Skorton was there, and so was Eric Schmidt, the Google executive chairman who is serving on a three-man advisory panel for the campus.
Wearing a natty tweed blazer and jaunty blue scarf, Mr. Schmidt was wandering just south of the sloping lawn, near the massive bust of the 32nd president that is a centerpiece of the park, when The Observer caught up with him. “I would say first it’s probably the most beautiful new public structures in America today, it’s so visually arresting,” Mr. Schmidt said. He thought is was a stunning space both to look at and to look out from.
When technology changes at the speed of a microprocessor or the flicker of a screen, in the time it takes to type in a password or hit send on an email, how can buildings be created to contain all this light-speed innovation? That is the quandry confronting the architects designing Cornell and Technion University’s news campus on Roosevelt Island.
“Google didn’t exist 25 years ago, Facebook didn’t exist 25 years ago, even AOL didn’t exist 25 years ago,” Andrew Winters said on a recent afternoon. The director of capital projects and planning for Cornell NYC Tech, he was giving a preview of the the school’s proposed Roosevelt Island campus in a large conference room inside the Wall Street offices of SOM, the master planners for the 12.5-acre project. Thom Mayne, the Pritzker Prize-winning L.A. architect designing the first academic building on the campus was also present, along with a number of other Cornell construction executives.
“The challenge,” Mr. Winters continued, “is how do you create a tech campus today that is still flexible enough to grow and evolve for the next 25 years?”