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Columbia Submits Dueling Bid for $100M City Tech Campus

By Amy Zimmer | October 27, 2011 7:21pm
The library at Columbia University.
The library at Columbia University.
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MANHATTAN — 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.  

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.”

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.

A rendering of Stanford's proposed $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square-foot eco-friendly campus on Roosevelt Island.
A rendering of Stanford's proposed $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square-foot eco-friendly campus on Roosevelt Island.
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Stanford University

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.

The bids for the city are due by Friday.