November 28, 2012

After Hurricane Sandy, CornellNYC Tech, Roosevelt Island Adapt

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While the future site of CornellNYC Tech on Roosevelt Island was not damaged by Hurricane Sandy, tech campus officials said provisions are being put in place to protect the campus against future disasters.

Construction of the tech campus is still on track to begin in January 2014 with the demolition of the existing facilities on the island, according to tech campus Vice President Cathy Dove.

“Hurricane Sandy did not impact our timetable,” she said.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that Hurricane Sandy had caused $19 billion in damages to the city. In order to ensure that the tech campus will withstand the damage caused by any future storms, officials said architects are taking as many precautions as possible in constructing the campus.

To prevent damage from hurricanes and other weather-related events, the windows, panels, roofing and other elements that surround buildings will “meet or exceed the latest codes,” David Keating, a spokesperson for CornellNYC Tech, said.

The possibility of flooding and rising sea levels as a result of climate change are also being taken into consideration, according to Keating.

“For the Roosevelt Island site, our plans have always included provisions to raise the current level of the site and locate sensitive systems high above floodplain levels,” he said.

Central walkways and the ground floor of all buildings will be raised to an elevation of 19 to 21 feet in accordance with various regulations and guidelines, he said.

Officials are still considering how to implement other elements — including “emergency warning systems, security, communications, lighting and other campus systems” — to safeguard the Roosevelt Island campus against natural disasters, Keating said.

Until the Roosevelt Island campus opens in 2017, CornellNYC Tech is operating out of offices in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that have been provided by Google. After the storm, the Google office space was left without power and heat for about a week, according to tech campus Dean Daniel Huttenlocher.

While the offices were closed, many employees had to work from home, according to Keating.

“Luckily, many of our staff here in NYC were equipped to work from home,” Keating said.

Despite the loss of power, there was no long-term damages to the building — unlike many others in lower Manhattan. The offices reopened Nov. 5, officials said.

“Many people lost their homes and some businesses are still closed, so the impact on the region continues to be significant,” Dove said. “We are grateful that our employees and their families are safe and that our Chelsea campus is fully functional.”

Original Author: Tyler Alicea