Tech Innovation Campus sets groundbreaking for Sept. 14
Virginia Tech is set to break ground Sept. 14 on the first building for its $1 billion Innovation Campus in Alexandria.
National Geographic Society Chairman Jean Case, wife of American Online co-founder Steve Case, will be the keynote speaker at the groundbreaking ceremony.
A graduate school for computer science and computer engineering students, the Innovation Campus is a major component in the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program, which aims to produce 31,000 in-demand computer science graduates during the next two decades.
Scheduled for an August 2024 opening, the campus’s $302 million Academic Building 1 was designed by SmithGroup and is being developed by Bethesda, Maryland-based JBG Smith Properties. (The state is funding $168 million of the building’s construction, with the remainder coming from Virginia Tech and private donors.)
“It’s a place in which the future of technology will be invented,” Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus, says of the 11-story, 300,000-square-foot building.
Here’s a sneak peek at what the building will include:
- Classrooms with moveable furniture and partitions that retract into the ceilings
- The Sanghani Center (formerly the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics), supported by a $10 million gift from Reston-based Octo Consulting Group CEO Mehul Sanghani and his wife, Hema, both Hokies
- “Brain gyms” — rooms with analog games, music and other computer-free activities
- The Loft — a two-story space with a glass wall facing Potomac Avenue, testing spaces, a pitch room, a machine shop and electronics assembly space
- A visualization room with a projection floor and walls
- A 200-seat projection room with retracting lobby-side partitions
“It’s a porous place. We want people coming and going,” Collins says.
The building’s exterior will be decorated with distinctive gold solar panels, a functional design element that will generate 5% to 10% of the facility’s power. “The building is a model of high performance, a model of sustainability,” says David Johnson, a SmithGroup higher education design strategist working on the project.
The Innovation Campus’s headquarters is temporarily housed at the nearby National Industries for the Blind. Innovation Campus students are attending classes at Tech’s Falls Church campus.
Virginia Tech hopes the Innovation Campus will benefit the technology eco-system beyond the region.
“We see it as, frankly, a national issue,” Collins says. “The nation is in a technology race. We don’t always recognize that, but the other countries have been gaining on us in some sense.”