Morphosis' Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech Aims for Net Zero and LEED Platinum Certification

With construction nearing completion ahead of its September opening date, the first building at the new Cornell Tech campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island has been dubbed “one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the world” by the university, as they revealed their aspirations for the building to reach Net Zero and LEED Platinum status.

Designed by Morphosis, The Bloomberg Center (named for Emma and Georgina Bloomberg, daughters of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg) will employ a range of strategies including solar power; geothermal ground source heat pumps; a dynamic energy-efficient facade which balances transparency and opaqueness to maximize building insulation; and an array of smart building technologies that monitor lighting and plug load use, among other metrics.

“We are thrilled to work with Cornell Tech on a design reflecting their commitment to pioneering new standards in building performance,” said Ung-Joo Scott Lee, Principal Architect at Morphosis and Project Principal and Manager of The Bloomberg Center. “The Bloomberg Center’s design makes groundbreaking strides in sustainability while simultaneously fostering interdisciplinary communication among students, faculty, administrators and visitors and complementing and invigorating the surrounding Roosevelt Island community.”

The design of the Bloomberg Center will utilize a variety of passive and active energy-saving techniques to achieve a Net Zero rating. The list of strategies released by the university includes:

  • An all-electric building: No fossil fuel is used in the building.
  • Geothermal wells: Built by GI Energy, 80 closed-loop geothermal wells, each 400 feet deep, were drilled below the main campus public open space. The electrically powered ground-source heat pumps are used to heat and cool the building in conjunction with an active chilled-beam system.
  • Solar power: Built with EnterSolar, an acre-sized photovoltaic array tops The Bloomberg Center and neighboring The Bridge building, generating solar power. Instead of locating remote solar panels off site, the designs of The Bloomberg Center and The Bridge incorporate the panels as an integral building design feature, converging engineering requirements and architecture. The array on The Bloomberg Center provides building shading while harvesting solar power.
  • Highly insulated façade: A unitized, continuously insulated rainscreen wall system covered by an iconic metal panel façade designed by Morphosis architects balances exterior views and daylight while maximizing facade insulation.
  • Smart building technology: Smart building features, designed by Morphosis and engineering firm Arup, links lighting control, occupancy sensors, security, and other building controls to provide on-demand power and respond to user needs and occupancy, contributing to reducing energy usage.
  • Green roof: A low-maintenance green roof incorporates native plant species along the southeast edge of the building to help cool the lower roof surface.

Next door to The Bloomberg Center, The Bridge (designed by WEISS/MANFREDI) will feature a large solar array to provide a critical renewable energy source for the campus, while the world’s first high-rise Passive House, designed by Handel Architects, will provide residential accommodation.

“The Bridge is designed to encourage the random interactions and deep collaborations that solve problems, build partnerships and accelerate new products to market. But it also serves another important mission: contributing to one of the most sustainable campuses in the world. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi, the building’s solar canopy creates a unique architectural feature that is not just beautiful but functional. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have created a sustainable and efficient building that also has incredible sweeping views of New York City for our tenants to enjoy,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, President and CEO of Forest City New York.

“Sustainability is typically achieved building by building. Here at The Bloomberg Center and The Bridge, we’re taking a more collaborative approach that includes several buildings to achieve a more comprehensive vision of sustainability,” said Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, designers of The Bridge.

Phase 1 of the Cornell Tech Campus, including The Bloomberg Center, The Bridge and the Passive House, will open in September. Construction on the campus will take place in three phases, the last of which is estimated to open in 2043.

“Cornell Tech will have some of the most environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient buildings in the world,” said Dan Huttenlocher, Dean of Cornell Tech. “The Bloomberg Center is our main academic hub on campus and, inspired by the Bloomberg model, we’re reinforcing our commitment to innovation and sustainability by pushing the boundaries of current energy efficiency practices and setting a new standard for building in New York.”

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