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The Tech Campus Cometh: How the Applicants for NYC’s Applied Sciences School Stack Up

| October 28, 2011 4:00 AM | Updated: October 31, 2011 3:45 PM

This rendering shows the the former MTA headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn, which NYU hopes to turn into a high-tech campus. NYU is one of the main contenders in the Applied Sciences NYC competition. Image courtesy of NYU.

On Oct. 31, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city had received seven proposals from 17 institutions interested in building Applied Sciences NYC, the mayor’s technology dream campus.

Proposals were due Fri., Oct. 28. Five universities — Cornell, Stanford, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and New York University — are considered the front-runners in the competition to create the Applied Sciences graduate school, which the mayor believes will make the city a leader in entrepreneurship in the tech and sciences sectors. Amity University and the New York Genome Center also sent qualifying applications.

The winner, likely to be selected in December, will receive nearly half a billion dollars worth of city-owned land on Roosevelt Island, Governor’s Island or the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as well as infrastructure funding.

Reports say that Cornell and Stanford are leading the pack, but it’s still anyone’s game. The full proposals have not been released, but here’s what we know so far about the top five applications:

A rendering of Cornell's plan for a campus on Roosevelt Island. Photo courtesy of Cornell University.

Cornell University

Partnered with: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Site: 2.12-million-square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island

Estimated cost: $2 billion

Key elements: On Oct. 25, Cornell unveiled its sustainability-minded design, which loosely resembles a game of Dominoes. If Cornell wins the Applied Sciences contract, they plan to build the largest net-zero building on the East Coast, meaning it would create only as much energy as it consumes. The campus will include 4 acres of solar panels and 400 geothermal wells, which will produce water heated naturally by the Earth. It will also feature community gardens and rain gardens.

Academic focus: Information science in health care, social mobile networking and cloud computing, and information security and sustainability

What it has going for it: Cornell is one of the most advanced science and technology schools in the country and already has a New York City presence with a medical school on the Upper East Side. Also, Cornell has a network of nearly 500,000 alumni living in the boroughs.

    Rendering of Stanford's design for a campus on Roosevelt Island. Image by Redsquare, Inc.

    Stanford University

    Partnered with: City College of New York and City University of New York

    Site: 1.9-million-square-foot campus on Roosevelt Island

    Estimated cost: $2.5 billion

    Key elements: Green initiatives include a marsh to filter water runoff and ground-source heat pumps, which use the Earth as a heat source. The plan also includes residential towers, cafes, retail shops and a park. The campus would host up to 2,200 students.

    Academic focus: Electrical engineering, information technology and entrepreneurship education, with research focused on New York’s media and finance industries

    What it has going for it: The university is integrally connected to Silicon Valley, the nation’s technology epicenter with over 4,000 start-ups. Also, the university has said the project would create more than 7,000 construction jobs.

    NYU's rendering for the Center for Urban Science and progress in the former MTA headquarters. Image courtesy of NYU.

    New York University

    Partnered with: CUNY, Carnegie Mellon University, a team including corporate giants IBM and ConEd and international engineering schools University of Toronto, Indian Institute of Technology and University of Warwick in England

    Site: 200,000-square-foot campus in the former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay St. in downtown Brooklyn

    Estimated cost: $450 million

    Key elements: NYU wants to create a center allowing multiple partner universities to work together. Their design makes use of an historic space, and include research labs and a business center. It will host 500 post-grad students.

    Academic focus: Technology and research related to urban problem-solving on issues ranging from disaster preparedness, to traffic congestion planning and energy efficiency.

    What it has going for it: NYU believes that its proposal does not necessarily need to be mutually exclusive from the larger designs on Roosevelt Island. NYU also has backing from multiple powerful institutions, and the proposed campus would help re-energize an underdeveloped part of Brooklyn.

    Columbia University

    Partnered with: Nobody

    Site: 130,000-square-foot campus at West 130th Street in Harlem

    Estimated cost: $100 million

    Key elements: The building will be part of Columbia’s 17 acre, $6.3 billion expansion in West Harlem, complete with graduate school classrooms, recreational buildings and commercial spaces. The school would host 1,000 post-grad students.

    Academic focus: Job building within new media, cyber security, health analytics and finance classes

    What it has going for it: The campus would be part of an expansion that Columbia has been planning for years. The school says it can begin construction immediately if it’s awarded the contract.

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Partnered with: Steiner Studios, a Brooklyn-based production company

    Site: 32,000-square-foot site in two pre-existing buildings at the Brooklyn Navy yard

    Estimated cost: Not available

    Key elements: Will host 150 post-grad students

    Academic focus: Digital media and entertainment technology

    What it has going for it: Carnegie Mellon University is one of the premier tech schools in the country, and has multiple graduate programs designed to incubate entrepreneurial start-ups. Few schools in the country offer degrees in entertainment technology. Carnegie Mellon is also a partner on NYU’s proposal, so they’re putting their eggs in two baskets.

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      It would make more sense to add a grad school to the already excellent Cooper Union and merge it with Sloan Kettering and the New School, whose Pratt also has an engineering school. Also MCNY might be merged into Adelphi. We need rollups and consolidation to make our existing institutions more robust, like th ePoly-NYU merger, not just a lot of clutter.

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