The new campus being built on Roosevelt Island in New York City for the Cornell-Technion technology campus will be the last word in sustainable construction. Plans for the campus were approved by officials last week, with the city signing over 12 acres of land on the East River island to Cornell for construction of the project.

Cornell and the Technion agreed last year to collaborate on building a high-tech campus, which, said outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will “help New York become the world’s leading city for technological innovation.” At an event last Thursday in New York with Cornell University President David J. Skorton, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology President Peretz Lavie, Bloomberg said that “our goal has been to make New York City the global capital of technological innovation, and this new campus on Roosevelt Island is a central part of our strategy for achieving it.” The campus, he said “is one of the most ambitious and forward-looking economic development projects any city has ever undertaken, and it’s going to help add thousands of new jobs to our economy in the decades ahead.”

Based on the building plans, the campus will be one of the “greenest” in the United States. The campus, where about 2,000 students will study and some 300 staff will teach, will consist of a main building for lectures and classes, a second “mixed use” building, where classes will be taught and businesses related to the courses being taught will have offices or labs, and a dormitory building with 350 housing units. The four-story main building will have a solar “cap,” with photovoltaic panels taking up all the space on the roof, providing free electricity to the building. Eventually, Cornell said, the solar energy system will provide power for the whole campus.

In addition to using solar power, the campus will include plenty of open spaces. The buildings, to be constructed on the north end of Roosevelt Island, will all have a southern exposure, “designed to face the full arc of the sun and maximize solar energy and daylight,” Cornell said. The inside of the mixed use building will consist of easily movable (but soundproof) panels, allowing for a quick and easy reconfiguration of the space in response to need, which is likely to change on a regular basis. And the campus plaza will feature a “tech walk,” an outdoor space consisting of trees, benches, and public gathering areas, to better encourage walking and physical fitness among staff and students.

Overall, Cornell said, the project “is a revolutionary model for graduate-level technology education and is establishing itself as a world-leading institution, conferring graduate degrees and conducting research that drives technology, innovation, commercialization and the creation and retention of businesses and jobs in New York City.” However, that job creation may take awhile; the campus will not be completed until 2043.

Nevertheless, it’s still a great achievement, both for Cornell and the Technion, the heads of both schools said. “Cornell Tech is the proof that government and universities can work together to innovate and support economic growth, and we will be forever grateful for Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership in making this campus possible,” said Cornell University President David J. Skorton. “The Roosevelt Island campus is being built for the future, to be the place that generates the next big ideas, the new companies and extraordinary talent that will change New York and the world.”

“Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s vision, New York City is fast becoming a leading global center of innovation,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “Through the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, our international partnership with Cornell Tech, we look forward to helping to further the city’s future as the technology capital of the world.”