In December 2012, fellows of the Forum assembled to discuss plans for one of New York City’s key new development projects: the CornellNYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The Forum met with Andrew Winters, Director of Capital Projects for the university, to review the master plan and proposed architecture.

Situated just north of Four Freedoms Park on the southern end of the island, the campus will be made up of academic buildings, office space for engineering and technology businesses, and student housing surrounded by abundant open spaces. Visual corridors are planned to preserve visual corridors to the Queens and Manhattan skylines. The project will be completed by 2035, with buildings opening as early as 2017.

In spite of the island’s isolation, the new student population may not be large enough to warrant new transit or pedestrian connections to Manhattan and Queens. And the impact of the university has yet to be measured on the island’s residential community or the rising Long Island City neighborhood. Will the university fight to revive some of the island’s historic character, with car-free streets or a new elevator tower from the 59th Street Bridge? Or will it too closely imitate the suburban office parks of Silicon Valley and feel out of context in New York’s urban environment?

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