Work to begin next year on GMU’s $168M Arlington campus expansion
Move over, Silicon Valley. Northern Virginia is poised to become the next super hub for tech talent.
The charge is being led in part by George Mason University, which is bringing together a diverse community of digital innovators at its growing Arlington campus.
The university is tearing down an old building and replacing it with a 360,500-square-foot research, learning and business center for graduate students, educators, entrepreneurs and industry partners.
The $168 million expansion — sparked by Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters under development in Arlington — is central to the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program designed to produce 31,000 more graduates in computer science and engineering during the next 20 years. Mason is one of 11 universities taking part, committing to graduate 2,277 bachelor’s and 5,328 master’s degree holders.
The university received an $84 million investment from the state and has raised $21 million toward its matching $84 million.
“That infusion accelerated our progress to expand our programs,” says Liza Wilson Durant, associate provost of GMU’s Strategic Initiative and Community Engagement and associate dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering.
GMU’s goal is to add 15,000 more computer science and engineering graduates during the next two decades, she notes.
Led by a team of developers named Mason Innovation Partners, construction of the building set to house GMU’s Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) and School of Computing is expected to begin in spring 2022 following demolition this fall of an existing building on the site. Bethesda, Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate will be the lead developer and investor, the university announced in late February.
The futuristic workplace/laboratory/business incubator, which will include ground-floor retail and underground parking, is targeted to open in summer 2025, dovetailing with Amazon’s expected completion of HQ2, including The Helix, its corkscrew-shaped, tree-lined centerpiece.
“You have to give credit to Amazon for pushing the envelope,” says Arlington Economic Development Director Telly Tucker, a member of Mason’s innovation advisory council. “Amazon is shaping Arlington’s economic future.”
GMU’s building may not be as flashy as The Helix, but it will incorporate more than a modern design and a goal of LEED platinum certification, the highest energy-efficiency rating.
Interior spaces will be flexible to suit the emergence and development of ideas, Durant says. The project will inspire “serendipitous engagement as we collide together in sparking innovation and new companies.”