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2018 MCHAP

The Bridge at Cornell Tech

Marion Weiss, Michael A Manfredi

New York, NY, USA

September 2017


Marion Weiss, Michael A. Manfredi / WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism


Thornton Tomasetti (Structural Engineer) Jaros, Baum & Bolles (MEP/FP Engineers) Heintges (Glazing) Renfro Design Group (Lighting) Turner Construction Company (General Contractor)


Forest City Ratner Co


Iwan Baan Albert Vecerka



On Roosevelt Island, a development for the southern end of the island is unfolding, fusing entrepreneurial and academic ambitions within the form of a research campus. New York City has partnered with Cornell University and Israel’s Technion University to create “Cornell Tech,” a pioneering research initiative aimed at recasting New York as a global technology hub. This campus intends to forge connections between industry and academia, create technologies that will drive innovation for the digital age, while simultaneously defining Roosevelt Island as an engaging urban oasis within metropolitan New York. Cornell Tech selected Forest City to be its development partner, with WEISS/MANFREDI as the architects for The Bridge. The building is the embodiment of Cornell’s mission to bring together students, faculty, researchers, and industry to develop and bring groundbreaking research and technologies to market. The compact building footprint, and the campus itself, challenges the sprawl of Silicon Valley. By narrowing the physical distance between settings for research and innovation, the design supports Cornell Tech’s objective to fuse entrepreneurship and academia at the heart of New York City’s growing tech sector, concentrating in one 240,000 square foot building what has previously been distributed across 1,500-square-miles of Silicon Valley. Anticipating a new phase of public-private collaboration toward the creation of smarter and more livable urban environments, the campus adds another chapter to Roosevelt Island’s legacy of urban experimentation.


The Bridge’s loft-like design fosters dialogues between Cornell’s disciplinary hubs and tech companies of all sizes in a shared environment designed to accelerate the development of new products and technologies by providing common, felxible spaces for both entrepreneurial research and academic inquiry. The building’s crystalline form frames river-to-river views and brings daylight to the center of the building. The 235,000-square-foot volume is divided into halves to maximize natural light and accommodate a high level of tenant flexibility. The large floor plates are supported by perimeter trusses, creating a nearly column free interior to accommodate a wide range of users while promoting an open, sustainable, and collaborative atmosphere. The trusses are also expressed on the building surface; while the exterior appears to be completely transparent, it is 60% opaque and 40% transparent—a ratio considered to be the ideal for energy efficiency. The Bridge is oriented to strengthen campus connections and frame panoramic vistas of the campus and city. The ground level atrium opens toward a series of public, landscaped terraces stepping toward the Campus Lawn. The two cantilevered wings shelter outdoor social spaces that activate the ground floor retail spaces and entry. Anticipating environmental challenges such as rising sea levels and increased flood risk, the building is designed for maximum resilience with an entry floor that rises above the 100-year flood plain. The silhouette of a rooftop photovoltaic canopy unifies the campus’ architectural expression and is an iconic signature of the Bridge’s commitment to sustainability.

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