NYU to Use “STEAM” Disciplines to Turn Old MTA Headquarters into a New “MTA” Facility: Media, Technology, and Arts

 Marijke Jorritsma, an NYU Tandon master’s degree student, wears a VR headset to raise the virtual Mars rover into the sky so that engineers can see how components fit and interact.
NYU will invest more than half a billion dollars in Brooklyn over the next decade to expand and upgrade science, technology, engineering, and emerging media disciplines. Marijke Jorritsma, above, an NYU Tandon master’s degree student, raises the virtual Mars rover into the sky so that engineers can see how components fit and interact. Photo credit: Xavier Jones

NYU President Andrew Hamilton plans to outline the University’s more than half a billion dollar investment in Brooklyn over the next decade to expand and upgrade science, technology, engineering, and emerging media disciplines at an Association for a Better New York breakfast today. The investment will provide space and support not only for the applied sciences, but also for new initiatives and approaches that rely on the fusion of science, technology, and creativity that is a signature feature of what both NYU and Brooklyn’s burgeoning tech sector have to offer.

In fall 2016, Hamilton identified improving the sciences at NYU as a major priority of his administration. The expansion and improvement of science and applied science in Brooklyn will be an important element in the overall plan to accomplish that goal, particularly by building on the strong foundation that the Brooklyn-based Tandon School of Engineering provides.

A centerpiece of the growth in Brooklyn is the transformation of the moribund former MTA headquarters at 370 Jay Street into a building that brings together scientists, engineers, and creative artists of various stripes. NYU was awarded a 99-year lease for the building in 2012 as a winner of the city’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative. NYU programs will start moving into the facility during the fall of 2017.

NYU’s Brooklyn investment also encompasses a major renovation and expansion for its Tandon School of Engineering, focusing on key departments within Rogers Hall, the school’s main academic building. The University’s vision is to enhance its capacity and capability in the disciplines that merge technology and creative arts and to strengthen the connections between these disciplines and their industry and cultural partners.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship have propelled Brooklyn’s economic trajectory and earned the borough bragging rights as the epicenter of New York’s burgeoning technology industry,” says President Hamilton. “NYU’s expanded presence in Downtown Brooklyn will lead to innovative solutions to real challenges facing the world’s urban centers and create new opportunities that the University can develop collectively with the technology industry.”

“The 370 Jay Street Building and the enhancements to Rogers Hall will enable NYU’s incredible faculty to enhance the innovation ecosystem within NYU,” says Executive Vice President Bob Berne, who is coordinating the programming of the facility. “When technology lives with the creative arts and emerging media, there is no predicting what positive results can emerge. Both our faculty and students feed off of this synergy. This will have transformative implications for not only the University, but also for Brooklyn as we increase our presence and integration in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle community and beyond.”

NYU already has a track record of success in combining tech and creativity in Brooklyn with programs and spaces like MAGNET, the MakerSpace, the Game Center, and the Future Labs. Each of these programs brings together multiple disciplines from across the University and fuses the University’s strengths in arts and engineering.

“Today’s engineers are at the forefront of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship as they build bridges among disciplines,” says Katepalli Sreenivasan, dean of the Tandon School of Engineering. “NYU is equipping the next generation of engineers with the approaches and tools they need to forge a connection between technology and other fields, so we can solve the major problems of the world, creating and utilizing technology in service to society.”

“We are in a golden age for creative content making and new ways of telling stories,” says Tisch School of the Arts Dean Allyson Green. “This is accomplished at the cross sections of the arts, arts technology, and engineering. The enhancements and expansion in Brooklyn are enabling us to do this in a unique way. We’re going to see new technologies created and be able to prepare our students for jobs in fields that have not even been created yet.”

With a physical presence in Brooklyn of owned and leased program space (not including residential) that already reaches 600,000 square feet, the addition of the 370 Jay Street building adds another 500,000 square feet to that footprint, nearly doubling its academic presence in Brooklyn in one move. The 370 Jay Street building will be the largest NYU building in Brooklyn.

Among the first occupants of 370 Jay Street will be NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), to be located on the top floors. CUSP is a center whose research and education programs are focused on urban informatics. Using NYC as its lab, it integrates and applies NYU’s strengths in engineering, data informatics, and social sciences to understand and improve cities throughout the world.

In addition to the renovation of 370 Jay Street, NYU has also begun a major renovation and modernization of science labs in Tandon’s Rogers Hall that will advance three major departments within the school (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Civil and Urban Engineering, as well as Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) and will expand much needed lab and classroom space.

The additional space in Brooklyn will also benefit Tandon’s technology incubators, such as the Future Labs that support a wide variety of entrepreneurial outreach programs in addition to more than 40 start-up companies that focus in areas like data-focused, digital, and clean-energy technology. To date, 68 companies have graduated from the program, 13 through acquisition, with such notable portfolio companies as CB Insights, Clarifai, Vettery, Honest Building, and HEVO Power.

With the opening of 370 Jay Street, investments in the current academic infrastructure in Brooklyn, new spaces for incubators, and the creation of space for innovative research projects and interdisciplinary collaborations, the University anticipates its overall investment to exceed $500 million by 2022, and to attract more than 40 additional faculty and researchers as well as an additional 1,100 students to the Downtown Brooklyn community. 

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