It may seem odd to think of universities as developers. But New York State’s two most prestigious institutions of higher education, Columbia and Cornell Universities, are in expansionist mode. Columbia, which prides itself on its McKim, Mead & White main campus in Morningside Heights, is going in a very different stylistic direction on 17 acres in nearby Manhattanville. Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the firm of Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Renzo Piano, is designing four buildings. The first to open are the Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Both feature plenty of painted aluminum, and the Lenfest Center adds double glazing to the materials palette in order to mute the sound of taxis and subways. Meanwhile, Ithaca-based Cornell is partnering with Technion–Israel Institute of Technology to build a 12-acre sustainable outpost devoted to applied science on Roosevelt Island, floating in the East River. Although the full build-out of Cornell Tech isn’t expected until 2043, a couple of buildings are complete: the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, an academic hub by another Pritzker winner, Thom Mayne of Morphosis; and the Bridge, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism’s incubator where established tech companies and start-ups work side by side with Cornell researchers. Ivy League? Yes. Ivory tower? Most definitely no.
Columbia and Cornell Satellite Campuses
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10 Questions With… Cheryl and Deryl McKissack