The Cornell Column: Groundbreaking

Cornell Tech made a promise to New York three years ago to help build the tech economy and to fast-track innovation that addresses societal needs important to New York. This week’s groundbreaking marks a major milestone in this effort, with the first phase of the campus due to open in the summer of 2017.

That means in just two years, on the way to Four Freedoms, you will see the first phase of Cornell Tech’s campus. Students, faculty, researchers, startup founders, tech industry leaders, early stage investors, and others will be actively engaged in learning and discovery, in creating new products, new companies, and new nonprofits, collaborating across the traditional boundaries between academia, government, business, and social enterprises.

There will also be faculty, staff, graduate students, and their families living in the campus residential building, which we are proud to announce will be the first Passive House high-rise in the world. 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. The building, designed by Handel Architects and developed by Hudson and Related Companies, is an achievement – and with our aspiration of making the First Academic Building net zero, these buildings serve as examples of Cornell University’s longstanding commitment to sustainability. Our campus will be one of the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient campuses in the world.

To commemorate the groundbreaking, we were very excited to announce that Cornell Tech commissioned artist Peter Gerakaris would create a site-specific installation at Gallery RIVAA. Gerakaris is an acclaimed artist and Cornell University alumnus, whose innovative exhibitions have been seen in galleries around the world. [Photos and review, page 13.]

As many of you know, we spend time at Gallery RIVAA every week, talking to neighbors about the campus. This new exhibition takes our partnership a step further, and we were thrilled to bring this special installation to the Island. It represents the essence of Cornell Tech’s identity in many ways, by fusing art, technology, place, and community, much like the values of the studio culture that you can see, hear, and feel at our Chelsea campus. The sprawling 1,000-square-foot installation of kaleidoscopic imagery engages the public in visual play as new layers, patterns, and connections are revealed with each viewing.

The installation opened on June 16 and runs through the end of July. I encourage residents and all New Yorkers to stop by Gallery RIVAA and see it. The gallery’s regular hours are Wednesday and Friday 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:00-4:00 p.m., and 6:00-9:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

As we move forward with construction of our campus, I want to thank Roosevelt Islanders for their collaboration, ideas, and support. Between our time at Gallery RIVAA, work with PS/IS 217, and participation in Island events, to name a few – you’ve been so welcoming and thoughtful.

Please visit for updates and to get in touch with us, and be sure to check out the photo section, which we update regularly with images from the developing campus. [See page 18.]

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