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Google to House Cornell Tech Campus During Construction

By Jill Colvin | May 21, 2012 11:57am | Updated on May 21, 2012 3:31pm

WEST CHELSEA — It's already dominated the worlds of technology, publishing and advertising, and now Google is taking on a new role — university campus.

The tech giant announced Monday that its West Chelsea headquarters will serve as the temporary home of the new Cornell-Technion applied science graduate school, while the university's multi-million dollar campus is being built on Roosevelt Island.

CornellNYC Tech will be given 22,000 square-feet of space at the Google headquarters at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 16th Street — free of charge — beginning on July 1, for the five and half years it will take to build the new campus, officials said.

That space will have the potential to expand to 58,000 square-feet as the school grows — a giveaway worth approximately $10 million dollars, Google CEO Larry Page said.

Cornell President David Skorton, Google CEO Larry Page, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin announced the deal at Google Headquarters Mon. May 21.
Cornell President David Skorton, Google CEO Larry Page, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin announced the deal at Google Headquarters Mon. May 21.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

"Co-location is critical, connecting economic research and industry in a sort of mixing bowl," said David Skorton, the president of Cornell University, who said that the partnership is reflective of the school's mission to work hand-in-hand with the city's burgeoning tech industry and entrepreneurs, pairing students with working mentors, and creating a pipeline for new engineers.

Classes are set to kick off this fall at the new school, which won a $100 million city contest to build a new high-tech campus on free city land as part a growing push by the Bloomberg administration to turn New York City into a thriving tech center.

Students and faculty now studying and teaching at Cornell's Ithaca campus will be the first to move  to the Google campus, taking over office space now used by "Googlers" inside of 76 Ninth Avenue, which the tech giant owns.

The school will welcome its first class of new students in 2013.

Google's Page said the offer is part of a larger effort to bring new engineering talent to the city to build the innovations of tomorrow.

“This is one small step,” he said. “But it’s the small steps we take along the way that lead to the biggest change."

While some employees are already complaining about cramped conditions, he said that the school will provide unique opportunities for its employees to collaborate with faculty and students at the school.

“We’re going to compact them a little more to make friends for the new university," he said.

As part of the agreement, Cornell will cover the cost of any alterations needed to to turn the working office into classroom space. But Skorton said the general layout will likely stay the same.

“We do not anticipate any major change in the way this is already set up, except there’ll be a lot more red on the walls," he said.

While some have raised concerns about the increasingly close relationship between corporations and academic institution, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that relationships with companies like Google are integral to the school's mission and success.

“When we first envisioned the Applied Sciences initiative, we hoped the winning school would establish strong relationships with the tech sector," he said. "But this kind of synergy is beyond anything we could have imagined."