World’s Tallest Passive House Rises at Cornell Tech

Cornell University broke ground on the world's tallest Passive House on Roosevelt Island.

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Rendering of Cornell Tech Campus - Roosevelt Island

Rendering of Cornell Tech Campus – Roosevelt Island

Two years have passed since Cornell University’s Board of Trustees unveiled plans to develop an innovation campus on the southern portion of Roosevelt Island, on 12 acres of land that the City of New York agreed to lease to the graduate school for 99 years. Called Cornell Tech, this transformative development will eventually encompass 2 million square feet of academic, research, office and housing space, bringing under the same roof about 2,000 people. The campus will be built in three stages over the next 20 years at a total cost of $2 billion—which includes $100 million in funding from the City of New York and an additional $350 million in start-up costs provided by Charles Feeney, a Cornell alumnus and philanthropist.

Phase I of the project, which will cost around $800 million, debuted this May with the official start of construction of The Bridge, a seven-story academic building developed by Forest City Ratner Companies and designed by WEISS/MANFREDI. The facility will serve as a hub for companies, researchers and entrepreneurs focused on innovation and commercialization of new products and technologies that aim to drive economic growth for New York City. According to the Cornell Chronicle, the building was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and is set to open in summer 2017.

Rendering of Cornell Tech Passive House - Roosevelt Island

Rendering of Cornell Tech Passive House – Roosevelt Island

The second construction project, that’s also part of Phase I at Cornell Tech and kicked off this month, made quite a buzz: a 26-story high-rise that aims to become the world’s largest residential tower built to Passive House standards. Rising 270 feet above the ground, the building will not only be the tallest structure on campus, but also the tallest residential project certified by the Passive House Institute (PHI). As detailed by NYPassiveHouse, these standards reduce the building’s operational energy demand to an optimal extent through insulation, airtightness, heat recovery, solar heat gains, solar shading and incidental internal heat gains, so that the structure is exceptionally comfortable, healthy and affordable to occupy.

According to a press release, the Passive House at Cornell Tech is developed by The Hudson Companies and The Related Companies, while BuroHappold Engineering was selected to provide structural engineering, MEP engineering and lighting design services. The structure designed by Handel Architects is also being built to meet ENERGY STAR® and LEED® certification standards. Steven Winter Associates is providing technical consulting services to guide the design and testing for Passive House certification.

When completed in 2017, the $115 million Passive House at Cornell tech will include 352 rental units for graduate students and faculty staff. The building is projected to have an overall consumption that is 70 percent less than that of a modern conventional multifamily building. The New York Times reported that the housing units will come in a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments priced below market-rate. Additionally, the building will incorporate a number of micro units of about 350 square feet.

Renderings courtesy of Cornell University

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