David Stone
Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher (R) welcomes reporters. With him is project manager, Andrew Winter.
Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher (R) welcomes reporters. With him is project manager, Andrew Winter.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Before the formal Cornell Tech campus dedication ceremony, a small group of us were invited on a preliminary, inside tour with Dean Dan Huttenlocher. Here is what we saw.

(If you would like to watch today's dedication ceremony live, click here at 10:30)

It was a bright and early call, and roughly a dozen of us hooked up with Cornell Tech's media liaisons in the Bloomberg Center.

You couldn't have picked a better day, bright sun, warm and windless.

Among the several great things about Dan Huttenlocher is that he's always on time, prepared and ready to go.

En masse, we followed Huttenlocher out to a central point on campus where construction's first phase falls off into open space that will eventually emerge as phases two and three. On either side of us were the Bridge Building, Bloomberg Center and the Great Lawn where geothermal wells are already invisibly pumping naturally heated water to the surface for energy generation.

New information about the campus was scarce, in Huttenlocher's orientation talk, for those of us covering developments continually since that first hot summer day when City Council Member, Jessica Lappin, called us all together for a press conference announcing the RFP that finally produced the what may be the world's most innovative technology campus.

The campus, heavy with green space and comfortable seating, creates a welcoming environment for the Roosevelt Island community.
The campus, heavy with green space and comfortable seating, creates a welcoming environment for the Roosevelt Island community.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

As we returned along the main campus pathway, a family with kids in strollers passed, a refreshing reminder of Cornell's commitment to blending with the community.

"With all these impressive new buildings," I told Cornell's Project Manager Andrew Winter, "it's a shame to see that ugly green fencing where the hotel's being built."

"That'll be going away soon," Winter said, as usual, a step ahead of the crowd.

At the Bloomberg Center, art merges with the environment.
At the Bloomberg Center, art merges with the environment.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Inside the Bloomberg Center, after climbing the stairs to the second floor, Huttenlocher stopped to explain the decision to incorporate art in the architecture, not simply display it.

Later, descending, he confided, "Nice to see we've got the treads in the stairs. Last week, it was still wood.

Skylights were also still covered, and progress had not yet allowed for a live test of the geothermal based systems.

But WiFi stations for quickly connecting and managing cellphone calls were live and active.

Supported by a high tech infrastructure and conventional innovation. the Bloomberg Center's offices are not superficially much unlike many others that rely on openness.
Supported by a high tech infrastructure and conventional innovation. the Bloomberg Center's offices are not superficially much unlike many others that rely on openness.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Reminiscent of former Mayor and now campus benefactor Michael Bloomberg's City Hall, office space is of open design, everyone easily connected and energized in a community of work and study.

The airiness of panoramic water and city views exceeds anything his team enjoyed in their congested downtown government digs.

Huttenlocher explores the original and innovative architecture of The Bridge, designed to mingle business, government, entrepreneurship and academia.
Huttenlocher explores the original and innovative architecture of The Bridge, designed to mingle business, government, entrepreneurship and academia.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

We weren't able to see much beyond the first floor of The Bridge, probably the most exciting place on campus where the design is structured to merge and mingle academia with entrepreneurs, government specialists and businesses as they incubate digital solutions and unexpected discoveries for the future.

At a presentation space in The Bridge Building, Andrew Winter, who guided the physical creation of the campus, listens thoughtfully.
At a presentation space in The Bridge Building, Andrew Winter, who guided the physical creation of the campus, listens thoughtfully.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Down a long hallway that ends near the river, Huttenlocher showed us a minimalist presentation area set up to let creators demonstrate innovative ideas while colleagues critique and contribute.

Outside, the East River paused between tides while traffic hustled back and forth along the Queensboro Bridge. 

Already 60% occupied, The House, built to meet passive standards, fills the housing demands of faculty and students.
Already 60% occupied, The House, built to meet passive standards, fills the housing demands of faculty and students.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Although clearly still willing to talk about the new campus, Huttenlocher turned us over to Cornell Tech's media liaisons for a look at The House, a residential building built to meet passive house standards that, when first announced, was the largest of its kind in the world.

Students living in The House trooped in and out at midday.

The House is all electric with that utility paid for by the tenants to promote efficiency through responsibility.
The House is all electric with that utility paid for by the tenants to promote efficiency through responsibility.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

We saw a studio apartment that was smallish, even by New York standards, but so flush with smart design that it wasn't nearly as restricted as you might expect. Big windows create a feeling of openness, and a full featured, all electric kitchen looked ready for lunch.

Consistent with passive house ideals, tenants will be responsible for electric utility costs, which intends to promote both awareness and sensible conservation of resources.

A resident lounge at The House offers panoramic views up and down the East River.
A resident lounge at The House offers panoramic views up and down the East River.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Not your ordinary dormitory, The House will be home to only graduate students and faculty. There are all the amenities you'd expect in modern apartment buildings, including doorman controlled access, a gym, a roof garden and a lounge where tenants can meet, greet and party moderately.

Looking south from the highest vantage point on campus, green spaces waiting for the next phase, Southpoint and FDR Four Freedoms Parks taper into the waters near the United Nations.
Looking south from the highest vantage point on campus, green spaces waiting for the next phase, Southpoint and FDR Four Freedoms Parks taper into the waters near the United Nations.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

From The House's roof, the view down Roosevelt Island is graceful and green as Southpoint and FDR Four Freedoms Parks taper into the East River.