Mayor Mike Bloomberg, surrounded by around 30 officials — electeds, reps from his administration, university partners, and more — announced yesterday that New York City would be partnering with New York University to create an applied sciences center in downtown Brooklyn.
It was such an important, exciting, win-win-win announcement that 14 people had to speak about it (y’know, it’s good for New York City, it’s good for Brooklyn, it’s good for engineers and innovators, it’s good for people looking for jobs. Everyone wins).
The ridiculousness of so many folks wanting in on the press conference was not totally lost on the mayor.
“You can always tell whether something’s important by how many people want to participate in the announcement,” the mayor said, as a host of local pols, university people, and other somehow relevant leaders tried to organize themselves behind Bloomberg for the start of the press conference. “My vague recollection is when we wanted to ban smoking in public places, I stood there…”
“I was there!” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn chimed in.
“Maybe you were, but fundamentally there was nobody, nada,” Bloomberg said. “I just counted there are 14 speakers today.” (The Voice felt a collective sigh from the audience of reporters, who were holding 11-page press releases in their hands).
“So, relax,” Bloomberg said. “Everyone’s limited to 15 minutes, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s on topic or off topic. There’s an old story that everything’s already been said, but it’s not been said by everyone. I will make sure I say everything, but they’re still gonna speak. Sorry about that.”
Bloomberg was standing in NYU’s Polytechnic Institute in Downtown, Brooklyn, to announce that the city, in partnership with NYU, is creating the Center for Urban Science and Progress, or CUSP, as part of its citywide “Applied Sciences NYC” initiative, which is aimed at making the city a leader in engineering and applied sciences and growing the economy through these kinds of partnerships.
CUSP will be led by NYU and NYU-Poly, but will include a consortium of institutions, including the City University of New York, Carnegie Mellon, and private partners like IBM and Cisco. The center will focus on research and development of technology related to urban challenges and will grant academic degrees in engineering and sciences.
NYU — which has been rumored for months to be a likely winner in the city’s competition — will complete the building of its new center by 2017 at 370 Jay Street. The site is a 460,000-square-foot city-owned office building in downtown Brooklyn that is now partially occupied by the MTA and NYPD. The space has been predominantly vacant for more than a decade, and the city has apparently been negotiating with the university for months about the financial arrangements of the partnership.
“It is..an incredibly valuable and attractive location, but it has been under-occupied and underused for decades, and I’m happy to say that that is now going to change…for the benefit of this city, and I think this country, and the world,” Bloomberg said.
The city has allocated up to $15 million in benefits to NYU — with $3.75 million available to NYU for the first phase of the project to lease and renovate 60,000 square feet. The program will accept its first class in September of 2013.
The first winner of the Applied Sciences competition was Cornell University, which, along with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will build a campus on Roosevelt Island. Bloomberg said today that negotiations are ongoing with other universities who have submitted proposals, including Columbia and Carnegie Mellon.
The announcement yesterday comes as NYU pushes forward with its expansion in its primary neighborhood in Greenwich Village.
But Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz — one of a handful of local electeds praising the agreement — said that NYU’s real home is his borough.
“What better place than 370 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn, because Brooklyn is the college town, U.S.A, and they’re gonna love it here, faculty and students.”
To NYU President John Sexton, standing behind him, Markowitz said, “Why stop there? How about including a future stand alone campus in Brooklyn? I have to tell you — Greenwich Village, nice place. But in my crystal ball, the Tisch School of the Arts belongs right here in Brooklyn. We are the creative epicenter of the world.”
To drive his point home, Markowitz, turned around at the end of his speech and faced Sexton, shouting: “NYU begins in Brooklyn!”