The design review for the first academic building at the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus was approved by the university’s Board of Visitors this month, clearing the way for construction of the 299,733 gross-square-foot facility to begin this fall in Alexandria’s North Potomac Yard.

Board members heard two presentations related to the Innovation Campus during its June meeting: During the June 7 information session, Vice President and Executive Director Lance Collins briefed the board on progress attracting students, recruiting faculty and developing a project-based curriculum; Liza Morris, assistant vice president for planning and university architect, presented the design review to the Building and Grounds Committee on Tuesday.

Collins opened his update by praising Boeing for stepping up to become the first foundational partner of the Innovation Campus. 

Boeing’s $50 million commitment will provide student scholarships, foster the recruitment of faculty, and fund STEM pathway programs for underserved K-12 students looking to pursue a college degree and enter high-tech career sectors, he said.

“This gift truly accelerates our work and supports our effort to create the most diverse graduate technology campus in the United States,” Collins said.

Collins told the board he’s started a process to invite existing Virginia Tech faculty members interested in an appointment with the Innovation Campus to apply and learn more about the campus plans. He also expects to launch two external searches this fall to hire tenured professors.

The Innovation Campus enrolled its first cohort — about 75 computer science and computer engineering graduate students based in Northern Virginia — last fall. Campus leaders expect a larger class to start this August.

The campus strategic plan outlines a unique, project-based curriculum that embeds students with industry mentors. Collins told the board that he hopes to implement a small pilot of that curriculum this fall, with plans for it to grow each year until it’s fully implemented.

During her presentation, Morris told building and grounds committee members that the Academic 1 building, designed by SmithGroup, features a design centered on the principles of sustainability, health and wellness, green and social spaces, accessibility, connectivity, flexibility, and integrated technology.

The building will make its home on an approximately 3.5-acre, master-planned campus in the 19-acre first phase of a new mixed-use development and innovation district in North Potomac Yard near the future Potomac Yard Metrorail Station.

The university expects to start construction this fall and to welcome students, faculty, and staff into the completed building in fall 2024. Plans call for two other buildings, measuring about 150,000 square feet each, to be built as the campus grows.

When completed, the Academic 1 building will provide instruction, research, office, and support spaces for graduate-level programs in computer science and computer engineering, as well as select other programs. Experiential learning environments within this building will be designed to enhance the Virginia Tech experience including flexible multi-purpose areas, research and testing labs, and maker spaces.

Share this story