Firms learn about plans for expansion of Arlington Campus

Construction of the Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus took an important step on Tuesday, Feb. 25, when 105 developers, architects and engineers converged in Mason’s Van Metre Auditorium to hear about the expansion of the campus and the university’s vision for an innovation district in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

The meeting was in advance of the March 31 deadline for submittal of conceptual proposals for the project.

“This is the beginning of an important and groundbreaking project for Mason,” said Carol Dillon Kissal, Mason’s senior vice president for administration and finance. “This is our first major public-private partnership for the development of a building that will serve as a nexus for research and development partnerships, and programs that support digital innovation throughout the region.”

Over the next five years, Mason’s Arlington Campus will undergo a $250 million transformation, which will serve as a critical catalyst in the further activation of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, a dynamic and growing innovation district with a thriving high-tech ecosystem. Funded in part by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program, expansion of the Arlington Campus reflects Mason’s standing as the largest producer of tech talent in the state.

Mason in February released its request for proposals from developers interested in partnering with the university to build its 460,000-square-foot Institute for Digital InnovAtion, which will help support Mason’s new School of Computing, part of the university’s commitment to educate thousands more students in high-tech fields.

The building, which will incorporate advanced cyber infrastructure and green technologies, will support a mix of state-of-the-art tech-based research and related education programs, corporate innovation labs, co-working and innovation programs for high-growth ventures, collaborations and convening spaces to support public programming for the Arlington community, ground-floor retail, a below-grade parking garage and a public plaza.  

During the Feb. 25 meeting, Kissal gave an overview of Mason’s master plan to align university resources with its vision and mission of inclusion and diversity, and how IDIA fits into that larger strategic vision.

Deb Crawford, Mason’s vice president for research, innovation and economic impact, outlined the university’s vision for development of the Rosslyn-Ballston innovation corridor. And Harry Klaff, a managing director at JLL, a commercial real estate service firm providing consulting support on the project, explained why “IDIA is the right place at the right time.”

“What distinguishes this corridor amongst many is the fact that you have such a large presence of research universities and tech industry corporations,” Crawford of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. “That provides a significant innovation capacity ready today and promising to add much more through the building we develop.”

Liza Wilson Durant, associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering added: “The IDIA pre-submittal meeting was a milestone in our engagement with potential developer teams as we continue to share our vision for a building in which discovery, innovation and learning will flourish.”

Deadline for submission of conceptual proposals is 2 p.m., March 31, 2020.