For Its Roosevelt Island Tech Campus, Cornell Pursues Some Cutting-Edge Designs by Thom Mayne and SOM

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When technology changes at the speed of a microprocessor or the flicker of a screen, in the time it takes to type in a password or hit send on an email, how can buildings be created to contain all this light-speed innovation? That is the quandry confronting the architects designing Cornell and Technion University’s news campus on Roosevelt Island.

“Google didn’t exist 25 years ago, Facebook didn’t exist 25 years ago, even AOL didn’t exist 25 years ago,” Andrew Winters said on a recent afternoon. The director of capital projects and planning for Cornell NYC Tech, he was giving a preview of the the school’s proposed Roosevelt Island campus in a large conference room inside the Wall Street offices of SOM, the master planners for the 12.5-acre project. Thom Mayne, the Pritzker Prize-winning L.A. architect designing the first academic building on the campus was also present, along with a number of other Cornell construction executives.

“The challenge,” Mr. Winters continued, “is how do you create a tech campus today that is still flexible enough to grow and evolve for the next 25 years?”

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