New tech campus opens on Roosevelt Island

A so-called "genius" school to make the city a "global center of technology and innovation" officially opened on Roosevelt Island on Wednesday, realizing an idea first proposed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg a half-dozen years ago. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ has the story.

With the cut of a ribbon, Cornell Tech opened Wednesday on Roosevelt Island. It's among the city's most ambitious projects over the past decade: a graduate school to help New York compete with Silicon Valley as a technology industry hub.

"This school is an investment in the future of New York City and that future belongs to generations to come and the students who will help build it," former mayor Bloomberg said. "The companies they create will generate jobs for people across the economic spectrum. They'll generate revenue that will help the city to pay for vitally-important services."

In 2011, the Bloomberg administration sought proposals to expand or create an applied sciences graduate center. A partnership between Cornell University and Technion in Israel was selected, and given $100 million in city funding to build the $2 billion tech campus.

Bloomberg also personally donated $100 million. One of the three new buildings is named for his children.

"The best inheritance that I can leave my daughters and my grandchildren is a better city and a better world," Bloomberg said at the press conference. "I think it's fair to say there are few projects that can do as much for both places as this one."

The ceremony was filled with veiled political drama. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has a strained relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio, heaped praise on de Blasio's predecessor.

"Mayor Bloomberg, thank you for today, and thank you for 12 years of extraordinary service," Cuomo said. "You, my friend, left New York City better than you found it, and there is no higher praise for a public servant."

When it was de Blasio's turn, he also complimented his predecessor after reminding everyone that he was not usually a Bloomberg fan.

"I don't think I've been accused of being a Mike Bloomberg sycophant. So, I will say that, therefore, I hope the praise is seen as that much more genuine," de Blasio said at the press conference. "We are standing here because of one person who had the vision and had the persistence to believe this could happen."

Classes for Cornell Tech students began in 2012 in Google's Manhattan headquarters. This month, students and faculty moved to the permanent space on an East River island.

This was Phase One of construction. When the work is completed, there will be 2 million square feet of space and an estimated 2,000 graduate students.

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