Handel Architects’ residential tower for Cornell University’s new Roosevelt Island Campus will include 350 residences for students, staff and faculty. The 26-story building is part of Cornell's 2.1 million square foot technology campus in New York City, a partnership between Cornell and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The building is being developed by Hudson Companies, the Related Companies, and Cornell University.
Cornell Tech Residential is being designed to Passive House standards, and when complete will be the largest and tallest building in the world built to Passive House standards. Passive House (PH) is the strict international building standard that drastically reduces energy consumption while creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment for a fraction of residents’ usual energy costs.
To achieve Passive House standards, Cornell Tech Residential will incorporate a number of sustainability-focused design elements. The façade, constructed of a prefabricated metal panel system, acts as a thermally insulated blanket wrapping the building structure. At the southwest façade, facing Manhattan, the exterior façade opens to reveal a louver system that extends the entire height of the building. This reveal is designed to be the “gills” of the building, literally providing an enclosed, louvered exterior space where the heating and cooling equipment live, allowing the building system to breathe. Purified fresh air will be ducted into each bedroom and living room, providing superior indoor air quality. Use of low VOC‐paint, which limits off‐gassing and also improves indoor air quality, will be used throughout the building, among many other elements. Compared to conventional construction, the building is projected to save 882 tons of CO2 per year, equal to planting 5,300 new trees.
Considered the most rigorous energy efficiency standard in the world, PH buildings consume 60 – 70 percent less energy than typical building stock, surpassing modern standards like LEED and NYSERDA. The design also has a tremendous economic benefit for residents: Cornell Tech Residential tenants can expect to see this savings reflected in their electricity bills.
Passive buildings incorporate a super insulated building façade, an airtight building envelope and an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system to create a comfortable interior climate without drafts and cold spots. The ERV system constantly pulls in fresh air and removes stale air, while recovering the energy in the climate-controlled air leaving the building. The PH requirement for the airtight facade (measured as air changes per hour or ACH) is 0.6 ACH, ten times tighter than typical new construction; new construction buildings average 6-8 ACH, while typical brownstones average 25 ACH.
The new structure will be the tallest building on Cornell Tech’s campus and an iconic marker. The building’s exterior will shimmer, using a state-of-the-art, color-changing paint that, when reflecting light, naturally shifts color from silver to warm champagne. The interior is designed to provide a comfortable living experience that reinforces the social and intellectual connectivity that is at the heart of the school’s mission. It is geared to further a dynamic environment in which students and faculty can benefit from the synergy of their peers. The building features a number of collaborative spaces, both inside and outside, to facilitate collective academic creativity.