As construction continues, Innovation Campus Academic Building One makes its mark on Alexandria skyline
The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will open to students in Alexandria in approximately one year. Hundreds of graduate students will start classes at the 11-story, 300,000-square-foot Academic Building One in fall 2024. With the countdown on, construction crews continue to make major progress toward this goal.
“We’re starting to see Academic Building One take shape in the façade, giving us an idea of what it’s really going to be," said Summer Cleary, senior project manager at the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and Hokie alumna, who oversees the Innovation Campus site. "The building’s structure is what excites me most. It’s so complex and one-of-a-kind in its geometry.”
The external glass façade has been installed up to the eighth floor on the building’s western side facing Potomac Avenue. These glass panels, called unitized curtainwall, highlight the building’s unique gem shape. Included in this curtainwall are the terra-cotta structures, called fins, that separate each window pane and give the building its golden sheen.
These features are more than decorative. Their placement on the exterior will block some of the direct sunlight into the building and help reduce the energy needed to cool the building.
“I cannot express enough thanks to everyone who has contributed to this important project,” said Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus. “From the planning by a huge, dedicated group at Virginia Tech to the wonderful design by SmithGroup to the nearly two years of work by Whiting-Turner, we are lucky to have such an outstanding team behind this project. We are all excited to welcome the first students through the doors of the Innovation Campus in fall 2024.”
With approximately one year to go, not all progress is visible from the outside. Interior walls are framed in on most levels with a significant portion of drywall hung. Crews have placed much of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure in the walls and ceilings.Preparation is also underway for ceiling installation on the second and third floors.
A major milestone in the works is activation of permanent electrical service that will enable interior conditioning and therefore installation of interior finishes.
The first step – or rough grading – phase of the site work has begun. The result will be a plaza, green space, and surface parking.
Virginia Tech’s 3.5-acre campus is three blocks from the new Potomac Yard-VT Metro station, connecting Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff to the center of Northern Virginia’s growing technology corridor.
The design of Academic Building One focuses on principles of sustainability, health and wellness, green and social spaces, accessibility, connectivity, flexibility, and integrated technology.
Ultimately, the Innovation Campus will include two additional campus buildings, measuring about 150,000 square feet each. See more renderings and a virtual tour on our campus and construction page.
In preparation for the 2024 opening, the Innovation Campus has been building up its Master of Engineering program focused on computer science and computer engineering for the past four years. There were more than 250 Innovation Campus master’s students in the region in the spring 2023 semester, and the number is expected to increase this fall.
At full build, the Innovation Campus will enroll approximately 750 master’s and 200 doctoral students and graduate 550 master’s and 50 doctoral candidates annually.