The House at Cornell Tech

New York
Handel Architects

Handel Architects’ residential tower for Cornell University’s new Roosevelt Island Campus includes 350 residences for students, staff and faculty. The 26-story building, called The House, 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.

The House was designed to Passive House standards, and is now the largest and tallest Passive House building in the world. 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, The House incorporates 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 is 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, is 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.

The new structure is the tallest building on Cornell Tech’s campus and an iconic marker. The building’s exterior shimmers, 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.

At the core of Handel Architects’ practice is the idea that cities are the incubators of our greatest achievements and our best hope for a sustainable future. We also believe that each individual building can be a catalyst for positive urban change as well as an achievement in its own right. The House at Cornell Tech gives us an opportunity to not only contribute to a transformative venture but to create a demonstration project that can show that radical energy savings are achievable right here and now.

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Other Projects by Handel Architects

San Francisco
New York City
Hemenway Performing Arts Building at Boston Conservatory
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Journal Squared
Jersey City
Flushing Meadows Recreation Center
New York City