Roosevelt Island, which sits on the East River between Manhattan and Queens, has, over the years, housed a prison, an asylum, a workhouse and a smallpox hospital. Now it’s home to a very different kind of institution: Cornell Tech’s striking new campus. This highly innovative 21st-century campus revolves around three stylish new buildings – the Bloomberg Center by Morphosis, The House by Handel Architects, and the Tata Innovation Center by Weiss/Manfredi – and Spacestor were delighted to supply the latter with our Railway Carriage, Phonebooth and Snugglestor products.
This groundbreaking new campus is a collaboration between Cornell University and Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, and it’s estimated that it will generate hundreds of new companies, up to 8,000 new jobs and more than $23 billion of economic activity in the next 35 years. Spread over 12 acres in the heart of the city, it features, like a more traditional campus, a variety of green outdoors spaces including a planted “Tech Walk”, a large lawn and a central plaza, all of which are open to the public.
“Cornell Tech,” the university explains, “is the first campus ever built for the digital age, bringing together academia and industry to create pioneering leaders and transformational new research, products, companies and social ventures.” The plan is to reinvigorate New York’s tech industry by mixing graduate students and faculty with entrepreneurs and business leaders in the same spaces: and the Tata Innovation Center, the largest building on campus, is the perfect physical embodiment of these ideas.
A third of the Innovation Center will be given over to the university’s maker spaces and classrooms, while the rest will be leased to companies including Citigroup, Two Sigma Investments and Italian chocolate-makers Ferrero; meaning that established multinationals and fresh-out-of-college startups will be working alongside one another on everything from blockchain to machine learning to the future of hazelnut chocolate! Everything has been designed with openness and collaboration in mind, because these qualities are absolutely central to the Cornell Tech philosophy. “The building,” explains Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, “is a crystalline social condenser, one that reveals expansive skyline views and creates spaces for academics and entrepreneurs to slow down, talk to one another, and generate ideas in unprecedented ways.”
Gensler, the global architecture and design firm, working alongside Forest City, the owner-developer for this project, were commissioned to design the Innovation Center’s interiors in such a way as to encourage interactions between students, tenants and visitors – in other words, to promote the free exchange of ideas and create infinite networking opportunities, just like the greatest campuses from history. As such, we installed rows of our Railway Carriage meeting pods, single-person Phonebooth pods and Snugglestor seating pods, each of which was upholstered in pale grey and recessed into the walls of the light-filled room. In these comfortable spaces, one can enjoy views of the Queensboro Bridge and East River, creating a truly inspirational sanctuary amidst the buzz of the workspace.