East River Esplanade Shut Until End of March for Rockefeller University Expansion Work

Rendering of the Rockefeller University expansion along the East River. Credit: Rockefeller University.Rendering of the Rockefeller University expansion along the East River. Credit: Rockefeller University.

Effective today, a multi-block stretch of the East River Esplanade is closed temporarily as work is undertaken for the expansion of Rockefeller University’s Upper East Side campus. All pedestrians and cyclists will be unable to access the stretch between East 63rd and 68th streets, from Monday, February 13 to Friday, March 31.

“The closure will accommodate repairs to pipes that drain rainwater from the FDR Drive and the East River Esplanade into the East River. During the course of the River Campus construction, the university discovered that these pipes were badly deteriorated,” the university’s website said.

Renderings of the East River Esplanade, facing north and south, following the expansion of Rockefeller University. Credit: Rockefeller University.

Renderings of the East River Esplanade, facing north and south, following the expansion of Rockefeller University. Credit: Rockefeller University.

“Rockefeller has agreed to make repairs to this critical city infrastructure at its own expense, and has established an aggressive construction schedule that will minimize the closure of the esplanade and complete the work during winter months when the traffic on the esplanade is at its lightest,” it continued.

Rockefeller’s project isn’t the only large academic expansion in the area. Cornell University’s tech campus on Roosevelt Island is highly visible to drivers on the FDR Drive. Those same drivers have been driving right under Rockefeller’s construction site for months.

Construction of Rockefeller University's campus expansion along the East River as seen in late January. Credit: Tectonic.

Construction of Rockefeller University’s campus expansion along the East River as seen in late January. Credit: Tectonic.

Thankfully, prolific construction chronicler Tectonic posted this photo of the work to his Flickr page. It shows construction is humming along. The design by Architect Rafael Viñoly’s firm is already evident. Eventually, so will the work of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

The expansion will add two acres to the campus. The centerpiece will be the new Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building. The university says it “will provide 135,600 square feet of interior space on two floors, enough to accommodate over 600 scientific personnel, depending on the researcher’s preferred layout.”

Rendering of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building. Credit: Rockefeller University.

Rendering of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building. Credit: Rockefeller University.

The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation pledged $100 million in May 2015 to support the creation of the research building. The expansion will also include “dining commons, an academic center, a conference center, and associated gardens.”

Rendering of Rockefeller University's expanded campus along the East River. Credit: Rockefeller University.

Rendering of Rockefeller University’s expanded campus along the East River. Credit: Rockefeller University.

The project is expected to cost $500 million and be complete in 2019.