The Tata Innovation Center is designed to leverage the resources of a major university with the world’s leading technology-focused companies. The seven-story building, developed in partnership with Forest City New York, supports Cornell Tech’s efforts to fuse entrepreneurial and academic ambitions on its new Roosevelt Island campus in New York City.
The Tata Innovation Center seeks to promote invention by encouraging a new programmatic configuration: close interaction between academic researchers and start-ups under one roof. One-third of the 235,000-square-foot building hosts Cornell Tech studios, labs, classrooms, and event spaces, while the upper levels are dedicated to a mix of technology-focused companies and start-ups. Academics and professionals are connected by the building’s topographic interior consisting of monumental stairs and terraced seating that create a visual link to the exterior amphitheater landscape and frame views of the Manhattan skyline. The indoor terraced lounges, like decks on a boat, are illuminated by sunlight from a glass canopy and reveal panoramic views that connect the community in the Tata Innovation Center to the city beyond.
A central bowtie-shaped gathering space connects each level of the building and features river-to-river views. While most buildings prioritize efficiency with compressed circulation spaces, the Tata Innovation Center inverts the paradigm of efficiency. Here, generously-scaled circulation areas are equipped with lounges and stairways to support meeting spaces. By inviting visitors to the Tata Innovation Center to use stairs rather than elevators, the design also promotes a level of fitness and spontaneous conversations.
The central Tech Gallery—a three-dimensional crossroads—forms the heart of the building. The Gallery’s multi-level lounges, collaboration spaces, and retail areas encourage vibrant dialogue between academics, entrepreneurs, and first-time visitors. The building’s cantilevered southwest and northeast wings shelter outdoor social spaces that animate the ground floor retail spaces and entry terrace.
The building also contributes to Roosevelt Island’s urban community by offering retail spaces and a café at the main level. This public gathering point encourages provides a space for interaction between the island’s permanent residents, tech employees, researchers, and those visiting the island for the first time.
Anticipating environmental challenges such as sea level rise and flood risk, The Tata Innovation Center is designed for maximum resilience. The entry floor rises seven feet above the 100-year flood level with additional protections against major storm events. Although the building’s exterior appears to be completely transparent, the enclosure is 60% opaque and 40% transparent—a ratio considered to be the “sweet spot” for sustainable design. The high-performance curtain wall, with transparent and shadow box units, minimizes heat gain and supports a comprehensive daylight harvesting system that reduces artificial lighting consumption, which, for most buildings, accounts for the highest energy usage. In addition, the hyper-efficient truss design creates nearly column-free interiors for maximum flexibility. A canopy featuring 24,000 square feet of solar panels shelters the building’s landscaped roof terrace and defines its silhouette, further signaling the campus-wide commitment to sustainability. Envisioned as a crystalline incubator, The Tata Innovation Center establishes a catalytic setting for research and innovation.
New York City
United States of America
Building: Forest City New York, Lower Floor Interiors: Cornell Tech
Design Partners: Marion Weiss, FAIA and Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA, Project Manager: Michael Harshman, AIA, Project Architects: Joe Vessell, RA; Pierre Hoppenot, RA, Project Team: Heather McArthur, Sergio Saucedo, Catherine Qi, Competition Team: Todd Hoehn; Lee Lim; Andrew Ruggles; Joe Vessell
Turner Construction Company
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti; MEP/FP Engineers: Jaros, Baum & Bolles; Glazing: Heintges; Lighting: Renfro Design Group; Acoustics: ARUP; AVIT/Security: ARUP; Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Structural System: Beauce Atlas Inc., Exterior Cladding: Metal/glass curtain wall: W&W Glass, LLC / Erie Architectural Products, Metal panels: Jobin Organization / Sobotec, Precast concrete: BPDL, Moisture barrier: Carlisle CCW, Roofing: Built-up roofing: Carlisle and Henry, Glazing: Glass: Interpane and Viracon, Doors: Glass Entrances: Blumcraft / C R Laurence Fire Rated Glazing: Technical Glass Products Hardware: Dorma, Blumcraft / C R Laurence Interior Finishes: Acoustical panel ceilings: Decoustics Acoustical plaster ceilings: Baswa Acoustic, Sonakrete Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Miller Blaker, Inc Interior Glazing: Champion Metal and Glass, Empire Architectural Metal Wood Flooring: Haywood Berk Floor Company Wall Paneling: TAKTL Floor and wall ceramic tile: Nemo Tile Carpet: Bentley / Prince Street Raised Flooring: ARI Products Inc, Special interior finishes unique to this project: Terrazzo Flooring: Zonca Terrazzo, LLC, Furnishings: Classroom / Studio furniture: Herman Miller, KI, Office furniture: Herman Miller, Teknion, Lounge furniture: Andreu World, Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Walter Knoll, Stackable seating: Arper, Café tables: Arper, Lighting: Interior : Reggiani, Pinnacle, USAI, Exterior: Bega, Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron, Conveyance: Elevators: Kone, Energy: Photovoltaic system: EnterSolar/ Solaria, Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: Green / Occupied roof: Wolkow Braker Roofing Company, Brooklyn Grange
AV: Albert Večerka/Esto, IB: Iwan Baan
WEISS/MANFREDI, Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism was founded by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. Their work expands the definition of architecture by connecting the territories of art, architecture, infrastructure, and ecology to create new public realms.
Their projects, which include the Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park, University of Pennsylvania’s Nanotechnology Center, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, construct reciprocal relationships between city and nature, architecture and infrastructure.
WEISS/MANFREDI was honored with the Academy Award for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Harvard’s International VR Green Urban Design Award, the New York AIA Gold Medal of Honor, and exhibitions at the Museum of Modem Art, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and the Guggenheim Museum. Current projects include the US Embassy in New Delhi, India and Artis-Naples, the multidisciplinary arts complex in Florida.