David Stone
Left to right: The Bloomberg Center, Passive House and Bridge Building nearing completion, this month.
Left to right: The Bloomberg Center, Passive House and Bridge Building nearing completion, this month.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Back in April, Senior Director of Facilities Operations for Cornell Tech Floyd Young made it official in a Taskforce meeting with the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition: The campus has a hard opening date of July 17th. That's tomorrow. Don't expect a parade. Or fireworks.

What to expect on opening day...

Remember the day when you moved into your new home? You probably waited months, planning, preparing and finally packing. And now you've arrived.

At a place congested with unpacked, corrugated boxes.

A mattress leans upright against the wall. No one knows where the box spring is, and men with inexplicable T-shirts are frowning at you for being in the way, wherever you are.

Opening day at Cornell Tech is going to be like that, except probably more orderly.

Last Friday, the school closed up its lifetime home, generously provided them by Google in its huge Chelsea New York Headquarters. All the computers, desks, chairs, coatracks and notepads that have collected dust for five years were loaded on trucks for the ride to Roosevelt Island.

Where on Monday they will find a place in new buildings that are like no others and nothing like the one that's been home since Cornell Tech became a reality.

While professors, janitors and grad students won't have to worry about matching curtains or locating missing rods, they will have to adjust to a change in academic lifestyle embraced by architecture that will be more open and dynamic than any are likely to have experienced before.

So, the first day of official, non-construction activity at the school that dreams of changing the world, and not just once, but on a continuing basis, is likely to be pretty ordinary.

No bells and whistles, just hard physical work and organization, and probably the best thing we can do is stay out of the way.

What's opening...?

As you walk on the road that extends Main Street to curl through the campus, on your right is the space age looking and environmentally unique Bloomberg Center, financed in large part by a donation from our former mayor.

The much awaited Cafe and nearby open spaces are not yet open to the public.

Bloomberg will be the building with which Roosevelt Islanders are going to be most familiar. Cornell Tech is opening up space for local groups to meet, and once in operation, its ground floor will be home to the Cafe, run by Starr Catering, a new destination for food and beverages.

On your left is a gap waiting to be filled by an on-campus hotel. Originally expected to open in Phase One, the hotel will be two years late because Cornell Tech was unable to sign a partner they liked to run it until this year.

But The House, a residential building where its passive house design will make it the largest of its kind in the world, is already nestled up next to the Queensboro Bridge, by far the tallest on campus.

By September, The House will be home to approximately 500 newly minted Roosevelt Islanders.

The Bridge Building is as tantalizingly original to look at as it will be to work within. With an ecosystem engineered to bring together the best minds in technology - academic, commercial, nonprofit and governmental - in way that fosters innovation and unexpected collisions of knowledge and imagination.

After that, as passersby on their way to Southpoint and Four Freedoms Park have seen, manicured green space with plenty of seating awaits you.

Oh, and soon, it's expected that Red Buses will resume their old routes, carrying riders all the way down to Southpoint's gate.

What's already open...

Cornell Tech's commitment to partnering with the Roosevelt Island community, aided by guidance and conversation with the Community Coalition, has already delivered years of activity.

STEM classes at PS/IS 217 have been made possible through teaching and training provided by Cornell Tech. Much attention has been paid to drawing young women into technology careers.

Working with Judy Berdy on the historical side, Cornell Tech saved and has worked to find permanent homes for murals that once graced the walls of Goldwater Hospital. Part of the school's integration included a colorful, commissioned exhibit at Gallery RIVAA to commemorate groundbreaking.

Less visible has been Cornell Tech's growing familiarity with out senior population, and although it will not make press headlines, next spring, the glories of rows of newly planted cherry blossom trees along the East Promenade will link the school firmly to its new neighborhood.

Watch for milestones to come as Cornell Tech opens its doors and welcomes you to feel at home. We'll be here to tell you about them.