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Stanford Withdraws Bid for Bloomberg Science Campus

As reported by basically everyone, Stanford has withdrawn its bid to construct a science and engineering campus in New York as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign to reinvigorate the city’s reputation as a technology hub. Proposals from Columbia, Cornell, NYU, and Carnegie Mellon are still under consideration. Originally considered a front-runner in the competition, Stanford claims to have withdrawn due to an inability for the school and city to “reach an agreement on a number of points, including whether the school could withdraw from the project without penalties” and the decision was “partly a result of the different cultures and expectations of a private university and a major city,” according to a Bloomberg source.

We reported on the announcement that Columbia had made it to the Mayor’s “short list” of proposals a few weeks back. In their December issue the Blue & White examines in-depth the impact of Columbia’s plan, which conveniently fits into the grand Manhattanville strategy. Look out for the print magazine on campus next week!


Illustration by Eduardo Santana, CC '13

From the Issue: Bloomberg Means Business, Again

“We have presidential candidates who don’t even believe in science… it’s mind-boggling!” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg exclaimed at a recent international economic forum on Columbia’s campus. Science has certainly been on Bloomberg’s mind of late (not to mention for most of his life—he did, after all, make his name as a tech entrepreneur before it was cool). After his early-morning eviction of Zuccotti Park, his most publicized crusade over the past few months aims to reinvent New York as the next Silicon Valley. The mayor has called for universities all over the world to submit proposals for new tech campuses within the city.

Bloomberg extended the invitation on July 19th, promising free city land and $100 million in funding to the winning plan. The mayor speculated enthusias- tically that the innovation (and the further innovation it sparks) could bring the city $6 billion in economic activity, and somewhere around 400 new companies with 22,000 new permanent jobs—what he called a “real game changer for this city.”

When the deadline for submissions arrived just three months later, the mayor’s office had received seven bids from a variety of global collaborations: Stanford, in partnership with the City College of New York, and Cornell, together with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, chose Roosevelt Island as the site of their future campuses. Carnegie Mellon University teamed with Steiner Studios, a video pro- duction facility, in a bid for land in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Amity University, based in India, submitted a solo proposal and selected Governor’s Island as a potential site. NYU joined five other schools—the University of Toronto, University of Warwick, the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, City University of New York, and Carnegie Mellon—proposing to construct a cam- pus in Downtown Brooklyn. The New York Genome Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rockefeller University, and SUNY Stony Brook put forth a bid for a campus in Midtown Manhattan. Columbia conveniently integrated its proposal into its existing Manhattanville expansion plans.

The projects vary widely in both purpose and scale. The largest, Cornell’s requested 2.1 million sq ft, is five times larger than NYU’s smallest submission. Columbia falls neatly near the middle with a proposed 1.1 million sq ft. Though the mayor has only guaran- teed $100 million in funding, the proposals have made it clear that the interested parties plan to make the most of the city’s land: both Cornell’s and Stanford’s proposals carry price tags above $2 billion. The mayor delighted in the 10,000-plus pages of proposals, calling them “stronger than anything we could have possibly expected.” A final decision is expected this January, though Bloomberg insisted in early November that there was no “one front runner,” even hinting at the possibility that more than one proposal may get the green light.

Columbia’s bid is a unique case, not only because it forewent use of the original three city plots pro- posed by Bloomberg (Roosevelt Island, Governor’s Island, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard) and neglected to partner with another institution, but also because the proposal is actually for five separate entities. A series of centers would constitute the hypothetical Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering: Smart Cities, New Media, Health Analytics, Cybersecurity, and Financial Analytics. These areas of focus reflect Columbia’s strengths in media, healthcare, and finance while expressing a clear commitment to interdisciplinary study. The expansion has more of a NoCo flavor than a Mudd one. According to Nate Levick, SEAS ‘12 and ESC president, “The proposed ‘Data Sciences’ center will have incredible versatility and multi-disciplinarity (a word I just created), and those abilities will undoubtedly see use outside Engineering school—the idea is to bolster Columbia’s technological presence as a whole.”

The proposal spends significant time touting the accomplishments of Columbia’s engineers in line with the university’s recent efforts to rebrand itself as a major research institution. The plan’s strength lies in preexisting progress on Manhattanville construction, and its emphasis on entrepreneurship and job creation. To date, Columbia takes credit for 4,000 inventions, 1,800 patents, 500 licenses, and the creation of 128 new companies (81 of them still active).

An advisory committee has been formed by the city to help review the proposals, and the Economic Development Corporation and City Council will undoubtedly offer their opinions, but the final say will likely come from Bloomberg alone, according to conversations the New York Times has had with city government officials. Each sub- mission will be given a grade, which breaks down to 40 percent for economic impact and feasibility, 40 percent for the qualifications and record of the applicant(s), and 20 percent for how well the new establishment would be integrated with the city. Stanford and Cornell have received the most media buzz, but Columbia is in a strong position, particularly if the mayor should elect to award funding to multiple proposals.

Speaking at MIT the week the magazine went to print, Bloomberg stated that, “I think we’ve told three [teams] that they’re not going to make it and that we’re working with the last four,” though he quickly back- tracked and reportedly told the New York Daily News that in fact only two of the seven proposals have been eliminated. NYDN sources claim that the five schools still in the running are Cornell, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, and NYU. According to Levick, the Dean of SEAS Feniosky Peña-Mora con- firmed that our proposal “has indeed made it to the ‘short list’ of candidates.” Should this be the case, Columbia’s odds are favorable, as both Stanford and Cornell want to build on Roosevelt Island and thus cannot both be chosen if Bloomberg selects two proposals, essentially giving Columbia a 50-50 shot at the prize.

A rival elite institution in New York City could put significant pressure on Columbia, pushing it to dedicate more resources to strengthen- ing its own engineering programs. It is likely that construction of the Institute for Data Sciences would go ahead even if Columbia’s proposal is rejected, but Bloomberg’s focus stretches beyond making or breaking ties with prestigious universities. At a press conference in July, the mayor expressed a desire for New York to become the “world capital of technological innovation,” starting with a new tech campus. Much has been made of various unsuccessful efforts to incubate a new NorCal in other climes; even if NYC boasts a culture of sleepless programmers, high property costs remain a roadblock. Editorials in the Times and New York Magazine have argued that you cannot simply force Silicon Valley out of the ground, and that municipal funds would perhaps be better spent on the cultivation of a stronger community and infrastructure for engineers and researchers already working in the Big Apple. Even if the chances of New York becoming an innovators’ paradise are slim, shifting job markets and the growing demand of data analytics would make a science center within Manhattanville a logical and desirable addition. With the recent announcement of a Facebook office in New York, it seems as if, despite skepticism, Bloomberg could be onto something. Even if Columbia doesn’t make the final cut, we’re already sitting on enough real estate to keep up with any newcomers. Just please don’t let it be NYU.

by Brian Wagner

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  • cornell in nyc says:

    @cornell in nyc Hm. I would think that having a Cornell campus in New York would cause huge damage to Columbia.

    I was drawn to Columbia over Cornell engineering because I valued the dynamism of New York City, among some other factors. It would be unfavorable competition because recruiting at Columbia will become difficult–they would never have the opportunity to experience the Columbia I came to know and love. Cornell’s strength in engineering was what made it so hard for me to turn them down, even though I am a weirdo that did find SEAS’s chopped up Core so valuable.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cornell has basically won. The point of Bloomberg’s alleged “competition,” was to lure Stanford or MIT to build a center in New York. MIT was never interested, and now Stanford pulled out. Only New York institutions remain, namely Cornell, Columbia, NYU, Mount Sinai, and New York Genome Project. So, Bloomberg failed at what he wanted to do, to bring an “outside” school to New York. Only Cornell remaining is interested in Roosevelt Island, which is across from their medical school. All the other schools want to build in Brooklyn, with the exception of Columbia that wants to build on land they already own in their campus. This should be a lesson to New York, to Bloomberg, and “neighbors” that due to regulations and politics, it is next to impossible to get a project off the ground in New York. Even with an 18 billion dollar endowment, Stanford ran away from New York.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Didn’t we hear that what Columbia’s dean wanted is money? By getting the land free at Roosevelt Island, Columbia can start selling its land at Manhatanville bit by bit. Medical School is separated from Morningside Heights and what’s the problem of having another campus in Roosevelt Island? Many disciplines are unrelated with each other. Who was the person who actually proposed Manhattanville? Was it the president or the dean? It sounded like a bad idea if you really wanted city’s money. The city wanted the proposal and negotiations to be confidential, but the dean kept opening his mouth and even has a video talking about it.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Troll Rating: 5 (out of 10)

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Why on earth would Columbia want to sell any of Manhattanville? They worked for decades obtaining this land. Altho the land in Manhattanville/Harlem is worth a lot less than the East side, having this much land blocks away from Morningside campus (and not far from the medical school) is priceless to Columbia University. Every inch of property near Morningside is invaluable to Columbia. Seth Low’s vision for Columbia was always a contiguous campus, with all disciples interacting on one campus.

      3. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why Bill Gates or George Soros was not a suspect? It may as well be the Saudi King.

    1. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous can the donor be Dr. Donald Trump? because he wanted to make Prezbo looking very bad.

    1. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yes, that was the point. He does not care about New York schools. Stupid.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The 350M donor to Cornell is Jewish. He is not a fan of Cornell, but because of his support to Technion and Israel.
    New York Times does not mention about Columbia at all in its recent article, as if only Cornell and Stanford are part of the game.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous And you know this… how?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous A donor who likes Cornell, would have donated to Cornell, not to a “possible, proposed” campus in New York that may never get off the ground and may not be chosen. It is either Bloomberg or an Isreali investor. It will be interesting if the donation is redacted if Cornell loses. Also, according to the Times, it appears Bloomberg is only negotiating with Stanford and Cornell. Bwog needs to find out what Presbo knows.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Sanford Weill. Already has Cornell’s medical school named after him. Despite the Citibank meltdown, he still has a bunch of spare change. He just sold his apartment for $88 million. And he’s 78, meaning he might drop dead any minute.

    2. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cornell has $350 million donation. BUT How much does Bollinger have in his account to show to Bloomberg ? This is the best timing for Cornell to get out of the cold remote Ithaca.

    Remember Columbia Engineering was “sold” for just 26 million. Bloomberg could be generous enough to sign a check for 26 million and ask Bollinger to go ahead and build it.

    1. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I bet the “anonymous gift” came from Bloomberg himself. Who else has 350 million dollars to spare? Bloomberg wants this thing to get off the ground. He has been in active negotiation with the president of Standord for three weeks now working out the details. The negotiations fell through, so he decided to give the money to Cornell. Bloomberg made his billions in New York, but has never given a dime to Columbia or a New York institution. He has given millions to Johns Hopkins and institutions in Boston. Bloomberg can give city grants and permits to Columbia any day of the week. His loyalty to outside institutions has shone. Presbo would know whether we are in the running by having daily phone conversations with Bloomberg.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous He gave money to outside schools because he went there. He is an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins and an MBA grad at Harvard. Stupid

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cornell has 350 million donation. BUT How much does Bollinger have to show it to Bloomberg ?

    Remember Columbia Engineering was “sold” for just 26 million.

    Bloomberg may be generous enough to sign a check for 26 million and ask Bollinger to go ahead and build it.

    1. Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous omg cute sketch

  • Anonymous says:


    1. Anonymous says:


  • Bora says:

    @Bora pretty phallic building huh? is that our proposal building?

    mm i really hope we get it!! :)

  • Terrible Proposal says:

    @Terrible Proposal I would be my left nut that Columbia doesn’t win. I bet that Bloomberg “shortlisted” Columbia’s application as a courtesy to the school given that it’s situated in NYC.

    It’s so transparent that Columbia is just using city funding to pay for the planned expansion into Manhattanville. The proposal that was submitted is in bad taste, since nothing really new would be added from Columbia’s bid. Call me misinformed, but Columbia is just adding facilities to further increase it’s areas of specialty. How would this add more to NYC than an entirely new entrant with strength in software development and systems engineering?

    Secondly, Bloomberg is trying to revitalize certain areas of the city. Columbia’s Manhattanville project is already contested enough within the community. I’m sure Bloomberg doesn’t want to leave a legacy of displacing thousands of residents in a poor urban area in the name of progress.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous It should be “bet my left nut” though to be fair, the former ain’t too shabby either.

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous The thing is, Bloomberg made the right call on M’ville. There’s lots of poor people in the various cities around the world doing very little to advance human society. There’s very few elite research institutions that exist to do just that – and almost none of them are in a city the caliber of New York. The loss of Manhattanville (which was a crummy light industrial area with little redeeming architectural or human elements) was absolutely a worthwhile sacrifice for the construction of an incubator of the ideas that will shape the next century to come.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Bloomberg had nothing to do with Manhattanville. It was the Trustees and Presbo

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You are unfortunately correct. Columbia is going to build its campus anyway, do picking Columbia , or NYU, would add anything to the city. The only difference is that Columbia’s campus is already here, would be built much faster, and more likely to succeed. Cornell is going to have to uproot people and dilute their main campus of students, personnel, and fascilities. In the long run they will not be happy with two campuses and both will weaken. That was the whole reason behind Manhattanville, to keep Columbia contiguous. People were upset at a possible downtown location- in the same city.

      1. Anon says:

        @Anon But Columbia is already in the city; for other universities like Cornell it might be a huge plus to have a campus in NYC.

      2. Terrible Proposal says:

        @Terrible Proposal I guess Columbia is Bloomberg’s back-up bitch. Remember that Cornell already has a medical school in NYC so they may have the capability of maintaining 2 campuses.

        Cornell definitely has some kinks to work out, including what departments to house and what researchers to bring down. However, larger engineering schools have many more professors than Columbia SEAS has. Many of these labs are insulated from teaching undergraduates so it’s more feasible to move them.

        Perhaps you could also enlighten the community on what the downtown expansion plans were. I have a feeling that such valuable real estate wouldn’t be used to construct an additional campus given the needed size. Also, not every school’s administration runs like Elvis Presley’s blocked-up colon. I can already imagine CUIT shitting themselves thinking about how they’re going to connect tin cans and strings to midtown.

    4. CC '12 says:

      @CC '12 Terrible Proposal, I agree with you up until the last sentence- the Manhattanville project isn’t displacing “thousands of residents” so I don’t think that it’s very responsible to say that it is

      1. Terrible Proposal says:

        @Terrible Proposal It probably is in base 2.

        Joking aside, I apologize if my facts are wrong. It was a way of saying that there seems to be me more political risk supporting Columbia than a campus on Roosevelt Island.

        I’m also glad that you would also be willing to “be [your] left nut.” Someones got the ball to stand up for what’s right.

    5. ... says:

      @... agree 100%. the fact that columbia is going to win this is symptomatic of why this city desperately needs some new blood like stanford to come in and shake things up.

      a city funded expansion of columbia’s hedge fund programmer training facilities is not going to diversify the city’s economy.

      for those of you that have a sense of columbia engineering pride: think of it this way, there could be no better stimulus for columbia engineering to get off its ass than for a powerhouse like stanford to come to town and threaten fat, lazy, king of the hill columbia with it’s million fiefdoms on every front. everyone knows this, even the professors that raised holy hell with the new york times recently in an attempt to sabotage columbia’s entry…

      1. ... says:

        @... wait, i misread you. i thought you said columbia would win. i guess that means i agree 0%. heh.

  • What did says:

    @What did Bloomberg say when he heard this news?

    I can’t Stanford.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “A rival elite institution in New York City could put significant pressure on Columbia, pushing it to dedicate more resources to strengthen- ing its own engineering programs.”

    In that case, please let someone else win this competition.

  • CC '12 says:

    @CC '12 Significant information to add: Cornell just received a $350 million gift intended for the construction of a Roosevelt Island campus, so they are now even more likely as the clear frontrunner

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Eduardo Santana is a boss.

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