By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
METROTECH — “Now that we have space at all corners of MetroTech, we might as well call it innovation square,” said NYU-Polytechnic President Jerry Hultin on Friday.
He was speaking at the ribbon-cutting for 120,000 square feet of newly leased space at 2 MetroTech Center and 15 MetroTech Center. Lifelike computer-created drawings on the wall showed what some of this space will likely look like a year from now, with people working at computer terminals.
In the wake of Polytechnic’s merger with New York University several years ago, there is now a need for more laboratory and computer space, as well as 3-D printers, computers, and offices for doctoral candidates, “post-docs” and others, said Hultin.
In particular, the space at 2 MetroTech will be the new hub for the Computer Science and Engineering Department and part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. NYU-Poly will have a separate entrance on Lawrence Street, where the lobby will feature a full-wall graphic of the Brooklyn Bridge. The offices were previously occupied by the Wall Street firm SIAC.
The space at 15 MetroTech will be occupied by administrative offices, including the president’s and provost’s offices.
Toward the beginning of the program, Hultin also paid tribute to the late George Bugliarello, a former president of Polytechnic, and developer Bruce Ratner (who was present at the gathering) for thinking up the idea of MetroTech 30 years ago.
In speech after speech, dignitaries stressed the importance of technology to the borough and city.
Borough President Marty Markowitz started off the proceedings by suggesting that with all these expansions, someday NYU might be considered a Brooklyn university “with a Manhattan campus.” He then got serious, saying that the big areas of scientific development for the future will be high technology, biotechnology and energy efficiency.
“Sometimes, I meet delegations from China and Brazil and Japan, and when you tell them you’re from Brooklyn, they get that look in their eye — they often think that [in terms of technology] New York is yesterday,” said Markowitz. Programs like those of Polytechnic, he said, will ensure that American technology will keep up with — and lead — the rest of the world.
Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, standing in for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, talked about the many resources available in Downtown Brooklyn. “Many people, when they talk about college towns, they talk about Boston, they talk about Ann Arbor, but we’ve got 55,000 college students in Downtown Brooklyn.
He also confirmed reports that the city is still looking into NYU’s proposal to create a high-tech, applied science “super school” at the old MTA Building at 370 Jay St. The city’s selection of Cornell’s plan to create such a school on Roosevelt Island in collaboration with the Technion, he added, was just the beginning.
Later, when asked how such a school would differ from NYU-Polytechnic, Dennis Dintino, vice president of finance at NYU-Poly, said it would be “more urban” and would be “independent from, but in close collaboration with, NYU-Polytechnic.”
Hultin also talked about some of the work that his students do. “Today, every scientist in the world uses electronic probes, readers and other devices to look at what they’re examining — they don’t have to examine it manually anymore,” he said. “And we make those devices here.”
Perhaps the most colorful speech was given by John Sexton, president of NYU itself, the school’s parent body. He began by saying that he gave Ratner his first job, as the head of an advocacy clinic at NYU Law School. He also talked about his deep Brooklyn roots, reminding the audience that he was once a professor of religion at St. Francis College and that his father was the president of the then-powerful Jefferson Democratic Club in Canarsie — “in the days when they would have decided whether Marty Markowitz was borough president!”
Sexton is also a graduate of Brooklyn Prep, the now-defunct elite Catholic high school whose most famous alumnus is probably Curtis Sliwa. In introducing him, Markowitz said, “Here’s the only person whose Brooklyn accent is deeper than mine!”