NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Some of the biggest names in New York politics were in attendance Wednesday morning for the dedication of the Cornell Tech school on Roosevelt Island, all remarking about how the school will help make the entire state more competitive and profitable.
“While Ithaca remains the heart of the university, we serve New Yorkers in all 62 counties of New York State and have been deeply integrated in New York City for more than a century,” Robert Harrison, chairman of the Cornell University Board of Trustees, said.
Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg said the school was the brainchild of Bob Steele, a deputy mayor, and Seth Pinsky, who runs the economic development corporation. The two came up with the idea in December of 2010.
Then, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration helped bring the plans to fruition, making the campus a reality.
“They spearheaded the competition that made this new campus possible and here we are,” Bloomberg said. “In many ways, this campus helps bring New York City back to the future. For most of our history, this city has been a global leader in science and technology.”
Commercial steamboats, the telegraph, pacemakers, ATMs, cellphones — all these devices flourished based out of New York City, he said.
But at some point, NYC fell behind in the tech game.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “We were losing ground in the tech race, that is true, not because others were winning but because we were not competing.”
But job growth since 2010 in the technology sector statewide has increased 26 percent compared to 16 percent nationally, a testament to the state’s commitment to move toward growth and development in the field.
“So the arrows are pointed in the right direction,” Cuomo said.
He said academia works best when it collaborates with the private sector, and students at the tech school will directly work with businesses, nonprofits and government to make global impact through real-life application projects.
Collectively, the partnerships are called the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute and will run out of the tech school, which has already graduated 300 masters and doctoral students.
The school is also a job and economic boost. According to Cornell, it’s expected to create 8,000 permanent jobs, hundreds of spin-off companies and more than $23 billion in economic activity over a period of 35 years.
“Cornell tech eventually will be a 2 billion project, but that’s what it requires to make a statement in this marketplace, and that is the New York way,” Cuomo said.
Forward growth and movement in the tech field is essential for the future of the state, Cuomo said, especially in a national political environment that preys off people’s economic fears and promises to revert back to the economy of the “50s and the 60s.”
Cuomo said, “There is no future there, my friends. The rhetoric may sound persuasive, but it’s not true, it’s not smart, it’s not even possible. The truth is this, an economy that does not invest today in the industries of tomorrow is destined to be trapped in the jaws of yesterday.”
Cornell Tech is also a feat in architecture and design.
Cornell President Martha Pollack said, “This beautiful campus is one of the most sustainable in the world.”
The Bloomberg Center has a net-zero energy — there are 80 geothermal wells under the lawn that feed energy to the school.
And The House — the 26-story residential portion of the school — is the tallest and largest high-rise passive house building in the world, meaning it uses 60 to 70 percent less energy than other high-rise residential buildings.
“But it’s already inspired an even taller building planned across the river in East Harlem. That’s the transformative role we want to play, and we will continue to innovate as the campus grows.” Pollack said. “Everything that happens in this special place, here on Roosevelt Island, is designed to be special, designed to be different.”
Featured photo by Shane Trost/ Cornell University