Cornell Tech Campus Framework Plan and Phase I Site Development, 2019 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Winner

Photo© Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM

Location: New York, New York, United States
Developers: Cornell University; New York City Economic Development Corporation; Forest City Ratner Corporation; Hudson Companies; Related Companies; U3 Advisors
Designers: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; James Corner Field Operations
Consultants: Karen Backus & Associates; Sirefman Ventures; Tishman Construction; AKF / In-Posse; Robert Silman; Philip Habib & Associates (PHA); Two Twelve; Fried Frank; Jaros, Baum & Bolles; DeSimone Engineers; Cerami & Associates; Pentagram; Gleeds; Langan Engineering; RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists; Brandston Partnership
Site Size: 12.4 acres (5 ha)

Jury Statement: The Cornell Tech Campus demonstrates the vision and leadership to link technology businesses and higher education within a major urban regeneration project to drive innovation and economic growth, combined with a well-executed master plan that elevates transit connectivity and open space, maintains viewsheds, and incorporates features that increase the resiliency and sustainability of the development.

Cornell Tech Campus represents a new model for higher education in the United States. Located on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the campus is designed around the idea that industry and academia should be intertwined instead of siloed. Along with academic buildings, the development includes corporate colocation, offices, a hotel, a residential tower, and conferencing and assembly areas, with space remaining to accommodate future requirements of the program.

Phase I Site Plan Image© Field Operations
View of the campus plaza, the heart of the Phase I campus. Photo© lwan Baan








The plan—more than 20 percent of which is dedicated to public space—is defined by permeability: there is no fencing or enclosed quad. The Techwalk dictates its layout, which connects Main Street to the north with Four Freedoms Park to the south. Buildings line the Techwalk, and ground-floor interiors host cafés, exhibition spaces, and lecture halls, activating the pedestrian pathways. The campus will be 2 million square feet when complete, hosting 2,000 graduate students and hundreds of faculty, researchers, and staff.

At the gateway into the site, along Techwalk, people seamlessly enter the campus. Photo © Field Operations
Aerial photo with interim landscape and Phase I buildings. Photo© Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM








The campus is designed to be resilient and sustainable, with on-site energy generation and buildings built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Passive House, and Net Zero energy standards. To ensure a holistic campus that could balance the needs of a wide variety of stakeholders, the design team created an innovative scorecard method with nine criteria covering both practical and experiential factors. A New York City Economic Development Corporation analysis projected that the campus will generate more than $7.5 billion in economic activity and spur $23 billion in overall economic activity in the next 30 years.


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