While you might be accustomed to higher education buildings in the United States having long departed from the traditional, red brick style of Classical or Greek Revival architecture, you might be surprised by the golden, shimmering, undulating Cornell Tech Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

This four-story, 160,000-square-foot academic building was part of the first phase of the Roosevelt Island campus master plan proudly touted by Cornell University as the first campus built for the digital age.

Far from a stuffy classroom building, the Bloomberg Center clearly articulates its digital age influence as envisioned by Morphosis Architecture. The firm designed a facility to bridge “… academia and industry while pioneering new standards in environmental sustainability.”

The artistically rendered façade, with its distinctive, cylindrical stairway, is optimized to maximize daylighting and exterior views and opacity while helping to meet very stringent quality measures and reduce energy demand. The building is LEED® Platinum certified, and Cornell Tech intends for the Bloomberg Center to be among the largest net-zero academic buildings in the U.S.

Fourteen different insulating glass unit types were required to execute the exterior design, for a total of nearly 20,700 sf of Guardian SunGuard® high performance low-E coated glass fabricated by independent Guardian Select® fabricator Cristacurva and installed by W&W Glass, LLC. The glass includes:

  • Guardian SunGuard® SuperNeutral® 68 HT coating on 8 mm low-iron, bent glass
  • Guardian SunGuard® SNX 62/27 HT coating on 6 mm low-iron glass
  • Guardian SunGuard® SNX 62/27 HT coating on 10 mm low-iron glass

The makeup includes bent double laminated and insulated glass units and flat laminated IGUs, some of which include a fine gradient Creanza® Design pattern of white dots.

The standout stair structure has insulating glass units as large as 5 by 7 feet and curved at a 6’9”. Cristacurva executed fabricated, bent glass with a very tight radius in double laminated, insulated units with Guardian SunGuard® SNX 62/27 coated glass. Its distinctive tight curve conveys artistry and compliments the industrial look of the iridescent, louver-perforated metal skin rainscreen, which is cut away so that bands of natural light reach inside the building. They work together to deliver a high-performance façade.

High performance low-E Guardian SunGuard® SuperNeutral® 68 coated glass delivers a very high visible light transmission, and Guardian SunGuard® SNX 62/27 coated glass combines high VLT with very low solar heat gain. By using both SunGuard products on the Bloomberg Center, the architects were able to provide high performance, soft coat, low-E glass that satisfied daylighting performance requirements, delivered the aesthetic required by the design team and could withstand the heat treatment required for the bent application.

As the home base and intellectual nerve center of campus, the Bloomberg Center fosters interaction and creativity throughout its modern classrooms, open work areas and café, starting with its groundbreaking, inviting design.


General contractor:
Barr & Barr

Glass manufacturer:
Guardian Glass

Metal systems manufacturer:
Wall panels: Zahner;
Curtain wall: YKK

Contract glazier:
W&W Glass, LLC

Glass fabricator:
Independent Guardian Select® fabricator Cristacurva

Photo Credit:
Field Condition