Michael M. Samuelian
Director of the Urban Tech Hub
Michael Samuelian is the founding director of the Jacobs Urban Technology Hub at Cornell Tech. He is an urban planner, real estate developer, professor and before joining Cornell, the CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. From community development in Lower Manhattan and the creation of a new neighborhood in Hudson Yards to the activation of Governors Island; he’s helped plan, design and develop some of the most transformative projects in New York City. Michael is an experienced executive, accomplished leader, open space advocate and strategic planner who has made an enduring mark on the skyline and streetscape of the city.
Upon founding the Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech, Michael has become one of the city’s leading voices on the role that technology plays in today and tomorrow’s cities. The Hub originates applied research on ways that technology can optimize urban systems while ensuring equity in tech deployment and development. Michael has produced public academic and industry events which have engaged thousands of participants, including the Hub’s signature Urban Tech Summit, held annually at Cornell Tech’s new Roosevelt Island campus.
As the President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, Michael led the non-profit organization created by the City of New York and charged with the planning, development, and ongoing operations of Governors Island. During Michael’s tenure, the Trust significantly expanded the public’s access to the Island, attracted new mission-aligned cultural and educational partnerships and created a strategic plan for sustainable real estate development, all while elevating the Island’s reputation as one of the city’s most beloved open spaces.
Prior to his appointment as President of the Trust, Michael was a Vice President with Related Companies, where his work focused on the planning of large-scale mixed-use real estate development projects. He was responsible for the planning and design of Hudson Yards, a $25 billion master plan for 18 million square feet on Manhattan’s West Side. Michael led the rezoning, entitlements, master-planning and design of the public spaces as well as the development of the signature component of the project, the Vessel.
After 9/11, Michael was the Director of Lower Manhattan Special Projects at the New York City Department of City Planning, helping the city’s efforts to redevelop downtown. In this position, he worked with a variety of constituents, ranging from the local community boards to state and city agencies to develop consensus for the disposition of federal funds dedicated to the recovery and rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Michael also led the effort to plan and design a new waterfront park on the East River and was the city’s representative in the creation of the World Trade Center Commercial Design Guidelines.
He received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cooper Union. Michael teaches extensively and is currently an Assistant Professor Adjunct at Cooper Union and a lecturer at Cornell Tech.
Michael is a Fellow of the AIA, a registered architect in New York State and former Chair of the New York State Board for Architecture. He currently serves on the New York Advisory Board of ULI New York and the Long Island City Partnership, and he has served on the Board of Governors of Open House New York and the Friends of Governors Island. In 2018, he was honored with the prestigious John Q. Hedjuk Alumni Award and inducted into the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2023 Michael was named a Power Player in Climate, Energy and Sustainability by NYPolitics.com and a Notable LGBTQIA+ Leader by Crain’s New York.