Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hudson Yards Competitor Plans to Break Ground Early Next Year

Because one Far West Side office complex built on a platform over some train tracks is never enough, developer Brookfield Properties has gotten serious about breaking ground on its Manhattan West project. The 4.7-million square foot mixed-used development will consist of two glassy skyscrapers, and two smaller residential towers between 31st and 33rd Streets and Ninth and Dyer Avenues.

Engineers have spent the last several years studying constructing a deck over the rail yards on the site, and Brookfield Properties says it has found a way to build it cheaper and quicker.

It will begin construction on One Manhattan West early next year, with plans to deliver a 66-story, 2.4 million-square-foot office tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the northeast corner of the parcel by the early 2014.
Brookfield's plans include beginning construction on the 1.6 million square foot, 60-story, Two Manhattan will by next summer, followed by two smaller residential towers, totaling 700,000 square feet.

Brookfield Properties expects to complete the Manhattan West project by the summer of 2015.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Related Secures $200M Financing for New 30-Story Tower

The new Coach Inc. headquarters is not the only building Related Cos. will be constructing on the far West Side in the near future. A $200M low interest loan will finance construction of a new 30-story apartment tower on West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, near its massive $15 billion Hudson Yards project.

Related has reached a deal for a $200 million loan to finance construction of a 30-story apartment house on a lot on West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, close to Related's massive Hudson Yards project. The loan is slated to close early next year.

The developer is building the 400-unit property along with partner with Abington Properties. The tower will be built under New York State's 80/20 Program, which means that 20% of the apartments must be reserved for low-income residents, and provides low-interest bond financing for construction. Related has plans to build a similar 36-story apartment tower directly across Tenth Avenue.

The project will include 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, as well as 50,000 square feet of underground parking. According to sources at the Related Cos, the project will likely break ground by mid-summer 2012.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Designs Unveiled for Atlantic Yards Prefabricated Towers

ForestCity Ratner unveiled the design for what will become the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure. The 32-story apartment tower at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street is part of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Ratner's second tower will be even taller, at 50 stories. Fourteen other residential buildings will follow at Atlantic Yards - all using the same approach.

The 350-unit building would use varying rectangular shapes, colors and glass to break up the mass of the structure, which would sit snugly up against the Barclays Center, the arena for the Nets that is to open in September. Mr. Ratner, chief executive of Forest City Ratner, said that prefabrication, or modular construction, could save construction time and cut costs by as much as 25 percent. Fourteen other residential buildings will be built at Atlantic Yards using the same approach.

Forest City Ratner is also negotiating a labor agreement with construction unions, which have supported Atlantic Yards but could end up with fewer jobs and lower wages for some trades if modular construction is used. Construction is expected to begin early in 2012. Presently, the world’s tallest modular building is a 25-story dormitory in Wolverhampton, England, that was built in 2010 in less than 12 months.

In New York City, the School Construction Authority has used modular technology to build classrooms, and the Capsys Corporation, a modular builder based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has built prefabricated steel-frame housing up to seven stories tall in Brooklyn and on Long Island.

Mr. Ratner said 60 percent of the construction would take place in a factory, where an estimated 190 workers would assemble roughly 950 steel-frame modules, each 14 feet by 35 feet, and outfit them with electric and plumbing lines, as well as with kitchen and bathroom pods. At the same time, on-site workers would build the foundation. The modules would be transported to the site, lifted into place by crane and bolted together. Steel bracing would rise with the stacked modules. The trick for developers, architects and engineers in erecting taller modular buildings has been to design an economical bracing system to protect the structure from wind shear and seismic forces.

The development once promised “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and over 8,000 permanent jobs.” The large number of jobs was a significant reason the state and the city agreed to provide $300 million in direct subsidies for Atlantic Yards. Mr. Ratner, a union builder, said modular construction would “probably” require the same number of workers.

Nevertheless, under current wage scales, union workers earn less in a factory than they do on-site. A carpenter, for instance, earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits at a construction site, compared with $35 in a factory setting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hunters Point South Construction Off to Good Start

Construction work is underway at Hunters Point South, the city's most ambitious affordable housing project since Starrett City and Co-op City were built more than three decades ago. The Bloomberg administration announces that 100% of the units in the first phase of construction set-aside for affordable housing.

Construction at the Hunter’s Point South site includes work by the New York City School Construction Authority on a new, 1,100 seat combined Intermediate/High School. The intermediate school will have 432 seats and the High School will have 543 seats. The school will also have 96 District 75 seats (special education seats). The School is being built at 2nd Street and 51st Avenue.

The fire retardant.white tarp seen in the picture has been placed on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the north side of the steel structure to provide temporary heat for the workers during the winter months.

The following work on the schools is currently in progress during November:
  • Continuation of erection of structural steel and metal deck, now has five floors;
  • Continuation of underground plumbing and electrical work;
  • Continuation of Con Edison vault construction on 51st Avenue, west of 2nd Street;
  • Start of installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems on 2nd and 3rd floors;
  • Placement of concrete for 2nd and 3rd floors;
  • Start of stairway installation;
  • Start of fireproofing.

    Hunters Point South isn't perfect, and it will take years to complete. But there's a lot to like, such as acres of open space, a new school, and improved infrastructure.

    So far, it's off to a solid start.

      Click below to view a video of the Hunters Point South master plan:


    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    New 35-Story Apartment Tower Slated for Fifth Avenue

    Real estate fund teams up with developer Urban Development to build 165-unit, market-rate rental building one block below Empire State Building. Construction of the new 35-story apartment building at 309 Fifth Avenue will begin in a few weeks and create hundreds of construction jobs.

    A new 35-story, market-rate apartment tower with 165 rental units will rise at 309 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. The news was announced Thursday by Multi-Employer Property Trust, a real estate fund that invested more than $100 million in equity in the project.

    The opening date for the 122,000-square-foot property on the east side of Fifth Avenue between East 31st and 32nd streets has been set for September 2013. The building will boast 11,000 square feet of ground-floor and basement retail space. It will be developed by Manhattan-based Urban Development Partners. Construction is expected to begin in a few weeks, according to Multi-Employer Property Trust, adding that the prior owner of the site started the foundation work.

    The new tower is expected to be LEED-certified. Multi-Employer Property Trust projects it will generate more than $265 million in economic activity for the city, and create more than 1,000 jobs. Once open, it will boast 24-hour doorman/concierge service, a fitness center, bike storage and a landscaped rooftop terrace. Apartments will have nine-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances, and some will have views of the Empire State Building.

    The general contractor for the 309 Fifth Avenue project is Lend Lease. The architect is SLCE Architects.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Smith Electric Vehicles to Build Assembly Plant in The Bronx

    Smith Electric Vehicles announced that it will build a 100,000 square foot electric truck assembly plant in the old Murray Feiss building at Walnut Avenue and East 133 Street, in the South Bronx. The factory will assemble up to 100 trucks a month and create 100 permanent jobs. Construction of the Hunts Point facility will create approximately 100 construction jobs.

    Electric trucks are environmentally friendly, are nearly silent in operation and produce no emissions. Smith Electric Vehicles, based in Kansas City, Missouri, manufactures battery-powered box trucks and has already found customers in New York City, including the Duane Reade pharmacy chain, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay. 

    Duane Reade’s fleet of 60 delivery vehicles circulates primarily in city limits, making it well-suited for battery power. Michael Fowles, director of distribution at Duane Reade, said the fleet will eventually be all electric. 

    Charles Hayward, the pharmacy chain’s fleet manager, echoed Mr. Fowles. “We have 6,000 to 7,000 miles of road time with the electrics, and they perform as well or better than the diesel trucks,” he said.

    Truck prices vary depending on battery pack size and other considerations. The basic cab and chassis, made by Avia and imported from the Czech Republic, costs $75,000, but battery packs ranging from 40 to 120 kilowatt-hours add another $25,000 to $75,000 to the total cost. Final assembly of the trucks will occur in the Bronx.

    Working with the bus fabricator Trans Tech of Warwick, New York, Smith will also be producing electric school buses. The buses will be assembled on the same electric Newton chassis as the trucks. Trans Tech is presently looking for a suitable location in the Bronx to build an assembly facility for the buses.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    New York City CANstruction Competiton and Exhibition

    The 19th Annual New York City CANstruction® Competition and Exhibition is currently on view at locations throughout the World Financial Center  through November 21st!   The New York City competition highlights the creativity and compassion of the area's top architectural and engineering firms to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food.

    These astounding structures are helping to change the world – by lifting the spirits of those in need, by raising public awareness, and most importantly, by collecting millions of pounds of food for local food banks.

    At the close of the competition all of the food from the New York City competition will be donated to City Harvest.

    The New York City CANstruction® Competition has begun its 19th year thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, contributors and participants who dedicate their time and talent. The exhibition is currently on display in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, 220 Vesey Street and the West Side Highway.

    This year the structures will provide enough food to feed nearly 60,000 hungry New Yorkers and we hope to double that amount through contributions from the public. Come and visit and bring a can to donate to City Harvest while your at it.

    Peter Coyne /
    November 15, 2011

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Engineering Firms Signal Upcoming Rise in NYC Construction

    Things may be looking up soon for the construction industry. Engineering firms, widely seen as the bellwethers of the building industry, are showing gains in employment and in the number of their projects. The numbers posted by these outfits, which land contracts on new projects and begin the design work long before the construction industry breaks ground, are surprisingly good.
    Things may be looking up soon for the construction industry. Engineering firms, widely seen as the bellwethers of the building industry, are showing gains in employment and in the number of their projects. The numbers posted by these outfits, which land contracts on new projects and begin the design work long before the construction industry breaks ground, are surprisingly good.

    In a harbinger of happier times for building industry, twenty of the New York area's 25 largest engineering firms, reported increases in employment from 2010 to 2011, with 15 reporting an increase in their number of  projects.

    “I think engineering will see some uptick next year and this will translate into more construction projects much later in the year,” said Cyrus Izzo, co-president of Syska Hennessy Group Inc.

    AECOM tops the list in terms of headcount, with 387 licensed engineers in the New York area, 32 more than it had in 2010. The company added 240 projects this year, bringing its total to 1,240.

    Each of the area's top 3 engineering companies, including Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup, saw increases in NYC area revenue, projects and employees this year.

    AECOM's largest New York project is the Second Avenue Subway. A number of the other firms who made the list are also working on designs for big tunnel and bridge projects. That includes Weidlinger Associates Inc., which is hard at work on the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

    Such public-sector projects have dominated the workload of local engineering firms in recent years, but in another sign of an industry turnaround, the balance may be shifting a bit. In 2009, most private-sector projects came to a grinding halt and the public sector was able to pick up the slack.

    But in 2011, several firms reported a pickup in demand for private-sector projects. Syska Hennessy, for example, noted that 80% of its projects are now in the private sector.

    Overall, engineering firms have a positive outlook for the coming year. More than 60% of the 93 firms in New York that responded to The American Council of Engineering Cos. survey said are optimistic about prospects for 2012. Syska Hennessy recently completed its five-year strategic plan and expects to build on its New York market share in the commercial sector.

    Source: Crain's New York Business
    November 15, 2011

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    $26 Billion in Construction Projects Forecast in N.J.

    There are indications that construction activity in New Jersey is on the rise. Business, labor and construction professionals, meeting last week in Trenton, expect more than $26 billion in public and private construction projects in the Garden State in the next two years.

    New Jersey Construction Alliance President Phil Beachem said that would be an 18 percent increase over the past two years. "As the construction economy goes, so goes New Jersey's economy," Beachem said. "So this is an important indicator or barometer as to whether the state is weathering this recession that we're in."

    Beachem said the projections could be affected by decisions made in Washington on funding for transportation and civil works projects. And he said the highway construction sector is benefiting from projects on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. While highway construction is holding its own, he's concerned about what will happen when the current Turnpike projects are over.

    "If they don't have design work then it's only a matter of a year before there's no contract being bid because there's not a design project," he said. "Without a contract being bid, you have no private sector contractors working and no building trades workers working."

    Mr. Beachem added that no significant pickup is anticipated anytime soon for commercial and residential building construction.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Sneak Peek at the Space Shuttle Enterprise's Proposed Westside Landing Pad

    The President of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum presented residents with initial plans for a new space museum built around the shuttle at this week's community board meeting. The spiraling glass structure will be located on what's now a parking lot across the West Side Highway from the Intrepid Museum, at West 46th Street, With the shuttle at its center, the new museum will have classrooms and laboratories, a theater and a rooftop restaurant.

    "This can throw off a huge amount of economic impact to the city and to the state on an annual basis." said Susan Zausner, the museum's president.

    NASA awarded the Enterprise, one of four shuttles donated to museums around the country, to the Intrepid in April. In the application to house the shuttle, Intrepid officials said it would be put next to the Intrepid itself. But the shuttle's size forced the museum to consider housing it across the street, which caused an Ohio senator  to call the museum "woefully unprepared" for the shuttle last month.

    Zausner said the museum expects to have about 300,000 additional visitors per year, 1,186 new jobs, and will generate about $143 million-a-year in revenue. Members of the community board overwhelmingly agreed that the museum could help transform the image of Hell's Kitchen. "This can really change the area," she said. "This is a beautiful linchpin to what we see as an area really beautifying the neighborhood."

    While board members wholeheartedly supported the museum, some raised concerns. The site currently provides parking for 14 buses, the new museum would bring total bus parking up to 28, along with 100 spots for cars.

    "We put the shuttle into space," said Tom Cayler, a member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance. "I think we should be able to figure out how to get some buses in a garage."

    The museum currently does not own the lot, which would have to be rezoned for museum use before construction, slated for 2012, could begin.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Colossus: Massive 10-Tower Complex to Rise in Greenpoint Next Year

    Two weeks ago, the biggest news in Brooklyn since the bubble burst three years ago: a new tower is coming to the Williamsburg waterfront. The largest project of its kind in North Brooklyn, the third tower at North Side piers will house 500 luxury rental apartments in a 40-story tower. But that is nothing —at least next to the development Park Tower Group has planned.

    One of the first developers to see the potential of the Brooklyn waterfront, Park Tower procured the development rights to the old Greenpoint Lumber Exchange almost a decade ago, a 20-acre plot at the tip of the neighborhood, where Newtown Creek empties into the East River.

    On this site, now home to construction storage and movie back lots - including Boardwalk Empire - will rise 10 luxury apartment buildings with 4,000 units of housing inside. After years of planning, one of them will begin to rise early next year, according to a person with knowledge of the project.

    The neighborhood has already seen a major boom and bust in the past five years since the rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Park Tower has been at work long before then. The firm is led by George Klein, who built a number of marquee office towers in Midtown in the 1980s while also playing a major role in city and national politics—like his development, it most often done behind the scenes. With its stake in the waterfront, Park Tower helped shape the plan for the rezoning, particularly the high-rise zone on the waterfront. The firm has been biding its time, quietly designing its project, under the direction of architect Gary Handel, whose work includes the Trump Soho, Hudson Square and the 9/11 Memorial.

    Park Tower was considering condos, but has shifted its focus to rentals as those are more easily financed and filled. The developer expects to close on construction loans later this month, to enable a ground breaking sometime early next year.

    “The project has been there a long time, but now the market is finally there,” a person involved with the project said. Park Tower is confident in its ability to realize the project given the strong demand for housing in North Brooklyn—rents have risen 10 percent in the past year.

    The community already supports the project. Unlike other developers, Park Tower is sticking to the parameters of the rezoning, rather than trying to add stories and reduce amenities. Acres of open space and a 20 percent set-aside for affordable housing—some 800 units—will be there, as per the rezoning.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    First Atlantic Yards Tower To Break Ground By Year End

    Forest City Ratner has announced that construction of Tower B2, the first residential tower in the Atlantic Yards complex, will begin before the end of this year. The B2 apartment tower will rise 34 stories tall along Dean Street, at the southeast corner of the new Barclays Center and house approximately 350 low and middle income housing units. 

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    Hudson Yards Massive $15 Billion Development

    Coach Inc. will become the anchor tenant at the first office tower to rise at Hudson Yards, sparking the start of the long-delayed massive development planned on the far West Side by Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group. The luxury leather-goods maker will occupy about one third, or more than 600,000 square feet, of the 1.7 million-square-foot, 51-story building at West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue that will sit right beside the High Line.

    The Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed building is slated for completion by 2014, and will be the first component of the more than 13 million square feet planned for the 26-acre site. The sprawling development will include three office towers, a hotel, nine apartment houses, a cultural center, a school and parkland. The $15 billion project could take as long as 15 years to complete. “The far West Side’s potential is becoming a reality,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference announcing the deal.

    Developing the far West Side has been a goal of his administration since Mr. Bloomberg took office, although an attempt to build a stadium on the site failed. Still, the city funded the extension of the 7 subway line so it will reach 33rd Street and Eleventh Avenue, paving the way for viable development.

    But more challenges lie ahead for the site bounded by Tenth and Twelfth avenues and West 30th and West 33rd streets. Related and Oxford need to secure more tenants before it will be cost effective for them to build the $1.6 billion platform over the rails yards that would allow for the bulk of the construction.

    They could choose to just build out the eastern half first, which would cost $800 million, but that still requires tenants. Related Cos. Chairman Stephen Ross has said that the company is in negotiations with various tenants but said that nothing would be announced before the end of the year.

    “Creating a whole new neighborhood that will be the Rockefeller Center of the 21st century and beyond is truly humbling,” said Mr. Ross. “The development will be an honor, a privilege and a work of love.” It has already been a long process. Related agreed to pay $1 billion to develop the property back in 2008 after Tishman Speyer pulled out of a deal. However, the economy started to sour after Related secured the rights, and a year later Related negotiated with the site's owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for more time to close the deal.

    Many noted that Coach was a perfect first tenant because the 70-year-old company has already been located near Hudson Yards for half a century. It will consolidate its three different locations at the site once it is completed.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Macy's Flagship Plans $400M Makeover

    Following the lead of Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale's, Macy's Inc. announced this week that its flagship 34th Street store will undergo a $400 million renovation, beginning this spring and lasting through the fall of 2015. The massive project, which includes upgrades of nearly every department, will create 1,600 construction jobs and add 800 new positions to the store's existing 4,600-employee fleet.

    “Herald Square is our company's most productive store and experience shows that improvements in this location consistently result in higher customer traffic and sales volume,” Terry Lundgren, CEO of the $25 billion Macy's, said in a statement, noting that the costly renovation represents an investment in the future of the flagship and in New York City itself.

    Overall, the selling floor will be expanded by 100,000 square feet to a total of 1.2 million square feet. The shoe department, complete with a digital shoe location system, will be upgraded to 39,000 square feet; 300 additional fitting rooms will be added and new restaurants are also being planned.

    The revamped store will feature 22 restaurants and food stations, including a second-floor coffee, wine and chocolate bar. Even Macy's legendary exterior is getting restored to its historic look.

    Rumors of a large-scale renovation for the 850-unit chain have been circulating in the retail community for nearly two years.

    “The store is very classic looking, but also somewhat antiquated,” said Kenneth Stumphauzer, a retail analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. “It was probably due for a renovation.”

    While the 850-unit chain has never disclosed what percent of annual sales the Herald Square location represents, it is estimated it could be between 4% and 6%. Much of the upgrade is focusing on areas where Macy's has had success, such as footwear.

    Macy's is not alone in its renovations—it's just a bit behind. As recently as last fall, several major stores including Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue spent millions on renovation projects. Lord & Taylor's upgrade of its Fifth Avenue flagship, completed last October, cost between $20 million and $25 million.

    Crain's New York Business
    November 4, 2011

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Construction Site Incidents on Rise

    The collapse of a building under construction in Brooklyn on Wednesday, and a boom lift that stranded workers seven stories in the air on Thursday, are only two of several incidents at construction sites that have lead to injuries and deaths in the city this week. More than 30 construction workers died in falls and other events on job sites in New York City last year according the federal Department of Labor.

    Rescued in The Nick of Time

    A group of hero construction workers helped pull one of its own from certain death Wednesday when a wall collapsed at a Brooklyn construction site.

    The crew was excavating a site on Church Avenue when a backhoe pulled too muck dirt from under the foundation of a neighboring building. The wall of the building, a beauty salon, began to crumble and fell on one of the workers, pinning him under debris.

    A handful of hardhats rushed to the man's aid and pulled him from the rubble as the rest of the wall collapsed to the ground below.

    The injured man was taken to Kings County Hospital where he was treated for a broken leg and a broken arm, and is expected to be okay.

    The worker cheated death and is lucky to be alive, according to firefighters. The wreckage compromised the foundation of another building on the block, a clothing store. Officials from the city Department of Buildings is expected to order both damaged buildings demolished.

    Boom Lift Stuck Near Top of New Jersey Church

    Two construction workers were stuck at the top of a church steeple for almost three hours Thursday afternoon. The men were inside a bucket positioned 125 feet above the ground, near the top of the United Methodist Church in Morristown.

    A fire department ladder truck responded to the scene as a large crowd gathered to watch the event unfold, but it was not able to reach the men. A police helicopter arrived at the scene and another ladder was deployed, but it was also too short to reach the stranded workers.

    By 4:30, a construction crane with a much longer boom had arrived to rescue the men from their stuck perch, bringing them safely to the ground.

    A safety mechanism on the boom lift kicked in after it struck the side of the steeple around 2PM.

    Bronx Building Collapse Kills Construction Worker

    A construction worker was killed after a building he was working in collapsed and buried him under six feet of rubble on Saturday afternoon.

    About a dozen pillars in the basement of a two-story commercial building had given way, causing the building to collapse. Two workers were jack hammering when a 50-foot section of ceiling above collapsed on them. Two other construction workers escaped unharmed.

    Firefighters dug Mohamed Kebbeh out from under the rubble with their bare hands about 10 minutes after the collapse, according a FDNY spokesperson. Around 50 firefighters responded to the scene.

    “He was buried under six feet of bricks and other debris,” Deputy Chief Donlevy said. “He was hurt pretty bad.” The chief said that a construction crew was doing active demolition in the basement of the building at the time. Mr. Kebbehof of the Bronx died at Jacobi Medical Center shortly after the accident.
    By Peter Coyne /

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Massive Development In Jersey City Gets Final Approval

    Jersey City's planning board gave final approval for construction of three 30-story buildings in the Powerhouse Arts District, yesterday. The massive development proposed by Toll Brothers almost four years ago, will rise on the site of the old Manischewitz matzo factory on Bay Street, near the Jersey City waterfront.
    After four years of political wrangling, the plan for three 30-story towers with 950 units is moving forward despite the developers exceeding zoning codes -- by four times the height and twice the density, according to opponents -- and eschewing affordable housing for cash payments. Preparation is underway for demolition of the old structures, with construction slated to begin early next year.

    The Toll Brothers plan had languished in court for two years as the Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association sued the city for seemingly granting substantial zoning variances on a whim. New Jersey's appellate court sided with the city and the state supreme court refused to hear the case.

    Final approval for the massive development in Jersey City's Powerhouse Arts District, is a clear signal that locals' efforts to keep the neighborhood an artist's haven have failed, according to an article published in the Jersey City Independent.

    Though the developers bowed to local demands by promising a theater and public plaza, Toll Brothers has the legal right to back out of those obligations if the three residential towers they build prove unsuccessful.

    And while payments are promised in place of affordable housing, the neighborhood association is worried that the city won't use the money solely to make the area livable.

    By Peter Coyne

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Columbia Takes Shot At $100M City Science Campus Prize

    Heads up, Stanford and Cornell—Columbia wants a shot at the city's applied sciences campus funding, too. The university submitted its bid Friday and unlike the other two schools, which are hoping to colonize Roosevelt Island, Columbia is sticking to the neighborhood it knows best. The newly proposed three-building institute would add more than 1.1 million square feet, to its already-in-progress six-billion dollar, Manhattanville expansion.

    The executive summary of the university's plan, places its Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering within the school's current expansion area.
    Much of the attention for the city's bid to build a major engineering and applied science campus has focused on Cornell and Stanford's dueling plans for Roosevelt Island.

    But as the powerhouses from Ithaca and Palo Alto have waged high profile publicity campaigns to bolster their chances, closer to home, Columbia has been quietly toiling away to get the city's nod — which awards the winner $100 million for infrastructure development.

    Columbia unveiled an executive summary of its proposal Thursday for its Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering to be built as part of the university's $6 billion Manhattanville campus currently rising on 17 acres in an industrial pocket of West Harlem.

    The institute would occupy three buildings, and over 20 years grow to more than 1.1 million square feet of laboratories, classrooms and facilities encouraging collaboration with entrepreneurs, investors, New York-based enterprises and other outside partners.

    Unlike Stanford and Cornell's plans, which would both add roughly 2 million square feet to city-owned land on Roosevelt Island, Columbia officials highlighted that its plans would be incorporated into the school's larger campus rather than being a stand-alone research center.

    Columbia's institute would focus on new media, smart cities, health analytics, cybersecurity and financial analytics.  It would collaborate with the Mailman School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Columbia Business School, among other university programs.

    Columbia officials said its first phase of the institute, for 40 faculty and 600 students, would be complete by 2018. Eventually, the school would support 167 faculty and more than 2,500 grad students. The plan would roughly double the size of Columbia's engineering faculty already expanding into new research disciplines, school officials said.

    Just as the other schools have been promoting their illustrious connections with startups, like Stanford's link to Google's founders, Columbia also played up the history of inventions that sprang from its scientists and engineers, from FM radio and X-ray photography to the technology behind the iPod Touch.

    It would add to its already-promised growth of Upper Manhattan, according to school officials.

    “Experience shows that engineering and applied science thrives as part of a multidisciplinary university community that includes everything from cutting-edge research in the basic sciences and humanities to the entrepreneurship of a business school,” Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement. “That kind of dynamic intellectual mix that defines not just Columbia, but the genius of New York itself.”

    Click Here to view a copy of the Columbia University proposal.