Cornell’s Tech Campus Debuts Pair of New Buildings

By Eric Althoff

Ithaca, N.Y.—Snøhetta, an architectural design firm based in Oslo, Norway, has brought its design expertise to a pair of new educational buildings on Cornell’s Tech Campus. The two buildings, which are connected physically, are meant to welcome visitors and students alike to the campus environment.

In addition to education, the Graduate Roosevelt Island Hotel and Verizon Executive Education Center will be utilized for academic conferences and programming. The pair of buildings will also have dining and overnight sleeping options for those who come to the island to stay in the short or long term.  Snøhetta designed the business conference center, encompassing 36,500 square feet, as well as the facade for the 18-story hotel.

The two buildings will share back-of-house services so as to reduce waste, and are situated along the “Tech Walk” that links these two buildings to open spaces on the rest of the campus. From the courtyards, people will be able to have views of the Manhattan skyline.

“From the beginning this was a unique experience because we got to design two buildings at once,” said Michael Cotton, Snøhetta’s director and senior architect. “Although each program and each client required a distinctive expression, the buildings ultimately work in partnership and are integrated within the larger Cornell Tech campus.

“As we worked through the design, we found that creating a unified base wrapping a shared courtyard offered the best way to bring together the two projects while also providing a functional podium supporting the individual use of each building. What results is a study in contrasts linked by public space: The hotel, tall and slender, uses the public realm to connect with the VEEC, which is low and soft by comparison.”

The two buildings represent the first phase of the 12.5-acre Cornell Tech campus redevelopment. The hotel was designed by architect of record Stonehill Taylor, with interiors by Graduate Hotels of Nashville. Snøhetta collaborated with Field Operations on designing the landscape.