The Other University Expansions in NYC

May 10, 2012 Updated: May 10, 2012
Epoch Times Photo
Cornell's expansion outside of Roosevelt Island: the 480,000-square-foot, 16-story Belfer Research Building on the Upper East Side, May 9. (Benjiman Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—With all the focus on the new engineering campus slated for Roosevelt Island, other significant university expansion projects, from Cornell and other colleges, should not be overlooked—as the institutions are investing billions in growth.

Almost half of Cornell’s $1.4-billion-dollar Strategic Plan III is powering the creation of a gigantic new research building on the Upper East Side—the 480,000-square-foot, 16-story Belfer Research Building.

“When we did Strategic Plan II, we thought that we had future growth wrapped up and taken care of, and there was no way we’d ever use all that space,” said Robert J. Musco, project director for Weill Cornell Medical College and special advisor for Cornell’s Roosevelt Island campus. “Well here it is now—five years later—and the radiology department is looking for about ten thousand square feet somewhere, because they want to put in a couple more MRIs and CAT scans.”

Cornell’s first two strategic plans—the first, $300 million; the second, $750 million—were funded entirely from philanthropy. As the second plan began coming to an end in 2004, the third plan ballooned to $1.4 billion, of which $1.1 billion has come from philanthropy.

Cornell’s Weill Greenberg Building, on the corner of York Avenue and East 70th Street, a 330,000-square-foot, 18-story-tall structure housing 14 medical programs, was the cornerstone of the second plan, said Musco. Reproductive medicine and radiology, the two biggest departments, practically run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Principles from Strategic Plans I and II have given Cornell guidance for its newest one, particularly how to complete projects successfully.

“Making changes is the quickest way to go over your budget and go over your schedule,” explained Musco. “You have to be firm in your commitment not to make changes.”

NYU, Columbia, Pace, and Fordham

Musco spoke at a Tuesday-night New York Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network event in Midtown, along with Dr. Brian J. Byrne, Fordham University vice president, and Lori Pavese Mazor, New York University’s (NYU) vice president for planning and design.

Epoch Times Photo
The 18-story Weill Greenberg Building, on the corner of York Avenue and East 70th Street, was the cornerstone of Cornell's last Strategic Plan, May 9. (Benjiman Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Pavese Mazor discussed NYU’s highly disputed Greenwich Village campus expansion, which recently went before the City Planning Commission for public comment. The commission has until May 23 to reject the plan, or allow it move forward with or without modifications.

NYU’s growth has been spread around the city, said Pavese. For instance, a consortium led by the university recently reached an agreement with the city and the MTA for a cutting-edge laboratory and research center in downtown Brooklyn.

Dr. Byrne outlined how Fordham has pursued expansion on its Lincoln Center campus, bordered by Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, and 60th and 62nd streets. A 335,000-square-foot law school and a residential building are already underway.

The university has plenty of room for future expansion. Currently the university has 791,075 zoning square feet (ZSF) of developed space, according to Fordham’s website, while “the city’s zoning code permits the University to construct nearly 3.02 million ZSF on the site.”

Other college expansions in the city include Columbia University’s more than 6.8 million square feet at its Morningside Heights campus, and a new 24-story residence hall for Pace University at 180 Broadway in the Financial District.

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