Coalition for Smart Construction aims to redefine industry’s future
The Coalition for Smart Construction at Virginia Tech, a new initiative that will leverage the expertise and support research of faculty in Northern Virginia and Blacksburg, will occupy 40,000 square feet on the ground floor of a new headquarters national commercial construction firm HITT Contracting is building in Falls Church.
HITT will serve as a foundational partner of the coalition, which is envisioned as a university and industry collaboration that will engage with federal and state agencies to drive innovation in the construction sector.
“As we continue to grow our presence in the greater D.C. metro area, creating innovative industry partnerships will enable the future of smart construction,” said Julie Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering at Virginia Tech. “The partnership with HITT Contracting allows us to maintain a presence in Falls Church and provide our students and faculty with a state-of-the-art facility built for collaboration.”
The new initiative, which advances the university’s work to realign programs in Northern Virginia around core research strengths, is part of recently approved mixed-use district around the West Falls Church Metro station that includes the site of university’s Northern Virginia Center.
The larger development will encompass 40 acres and include a smart mobility research test bed developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. In addition to HITT's offices and the Coalition for Smart Construction at Virginia Tech, the development also will feature mixed-use residential and retail development.
HITT’s new six-story, 270,000-square-foot headquarters, slated for completion in late 2026, will be a hub for education and innovation in construction.
“One of the last big innovations in construction was post-tension concrete more than 50 years ago. As an industry, we have to do better to tackle the challenges of rising costs, labor shortages, and our environmental footprint,” HITT Co-Chairman Brett Hitt said. “I believe that Virginia Tech will push the boundaries of construction by bringing its brilliant students to a space where they can work alongside our industry’s brightest minds. Bringing industry and academia together under one roof will help us effect real change.”
The coalition will organize its efforts around research themes that will help solve near and long-term challenges facing the construction industry and society’s use of the built environment.
In her role as a special advisor to university President Tim Sands, Ross is leading the Northern Virginia Steering Committee, a group charged with developing a cohesive vision and organizational plan for Virginia Tech in the D.C. region.
As part of its work, the committee is working to leverage the university’s strengths in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data analytics, business information technology, quantum computing, and other disciplines that will shape the way emerging technologies influence society.
The university’s growing presence in the region is supported by the launching of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, the creation of the National Security Institute in Arlington, the development of the Coalition for Smart Construction, as well as a number of other degree programs and initiatives supported by colleges at the university.
Virginia Tech will continue to maintain space at the Northern Virginia Center until 2024, when the first academic building at the Innovation Campus is expected to open.