Why Stanford withdrew its bid to build NYC’s “Silicon Island”

Why Stanford withdrew its bid to build NYC’s “Silicon Island”

Last month we reported that a partnership between Cornell University and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, won the $100 million grant and land to build a state-of-the-art applied sciences and engineering school on Roosevelt Island.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Roosevelt Island is a small area of NYC between Manhattan and Queens. It’s about 147 acres in size and is connected via a subway route, Island Tram and a bridge to Queens. At this point, there’s really nothing to do but live there, and as a 1-year NYC resident, I hardly even knew it existed.

Stanford and Cornell were originally competing for the same proposal, but Stanford suddenly dropped out for unknown reasons, despite the fact that it was actually the forerunner in the competition.

The reasoning behind Stanford’s dropout has since remained unclear, but now The Stanford Daily is reporting that, “beyond the academic part of the proposal, the project involved numerous land use, real estate, zoning, construction timetables with significant penalties and other details.” This caused the project to be impractical and terribly risky.

This is quite unfortunate, particularly because Stanford had already spent $3 million on the proposal alone. According to a Dec 27th press release, the decision had nothing to do with Cornell:

“Stanford’s withdrawal was the result of our own negotiations and had nothing to do with Cornell’s bid,” it said. “Prior to our decision, there was no suggestion on the city’s part that Stanford’s bid was not the front-runner in the competition. In fact, all evidence available to us indicated the contrary.”

Cornell is now on track to build the campus, and hopes to begin teaching students on the island next year, though the entire campus is not expected to be completed until 2043. In addition to a school, the area will also operate as a co-working space for creative professionals and is sure to boost NY in its fight to become the tech capital of the United States.

If you’re curious about the proposal actually looks like, here’s an aerial fly-over (3D render):


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