Cornell NYC Tech celebrated its groundbreaking this week – and had plenty to celebrate.
The ceremony had been scheduled and rescheduled due to back-to-back blizzards this winter. “Snow is the one thing that tech couldn’t overcome,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Instead of a ceremonial dig or ribbon-cutting, attending VIP’s, including Cornell University President David J. Skorton, de Blasio, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and developer David Kramer, toured the site, guided by Cornell’s Director of Capital Projects and Planning, Andrew Winters.
Bloomberg Philanthropies gave Cornell $100 million. The announcement, made at the ceremony, included the news that the First Academic Building (FAB) will be named The Bloomberg Center, in honor of Bloomberg’s daughters, Emma and Georgina. In his speech at Four Freedoms Park after the groundbreaking, Bloomberg said, “When I told Emma and George that I was doing this, they said, much to my amazement, ‘Cool.’ Actually, they said a little bit more; they were thrilled. There is no greater inheritance I can leave my daughters than leaving the world a better place.”
Mayor de Blasio commended his predecessor on the gift. “[Mayor Bloomberg] is following through on a vision he felt so strongly about – diversifying our economy. That means, necessarily, a focus on the tech economy. Thank you for adding $100 million to the equation, which all New Yorkers appreciate deeply,” said the Mayor, calling Cornell Tech “another jewel in the crown of New York City.”
The first residential building on the campus will be built as a Passive House, making it the first high-rise residential building in the world built to that standard. Passive House is the strict international building standard that drastically reduces energy consumption while creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment for a fraction of residents’ usual energy costs.
“Passive House makes sense as a phrase,” said de Blasio. “I think it’s a very activist notion. It’s a transformative notion. We’re going to be leaders, showing it can be done. We’re going to show the world a model that works in today’s reality. New York City has a goal: 80% reduction of emissions by 2050.”
In his remarks at Four Freedoms Park, David Kramer, Principal of the Hudson companies, said, “It might be a good day for solar power, but the Dermatological Association has asked me to make this brief,” referring to the bright sun and accompanying humidity. “The direction from Dean Kleinman from the architecture school was to think outside the box. The developers’ playbook usually prefers safe to experimental, but we took on the challenge, hoping to offer up a game-changer in passive housing. Passive House is the most rigorous international building standard that drastically reduces energy consumption, with actual results reducing energy use by 60-70% and reducing greenhouse emissions.”
Kramer also made clear that the first residential house is not a dormitory – it will be for faculty, staff, and students.
Outgoing Cornell University President David J. Skorton (who will soon head the Smithsonian Institution in Washington) said,“At Cornell Tech, we are creating a high-tech entrepreneurial hub for the benefit of the City, the State, and the world, and I want to thank Governor [Andrew] Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor de Blasio, and many others for their trust, vision, and partnership, as we work to reinvent graduate education for the digital age and build a pipeline of tech talent right here in New York.”