Virginia Tech plans $1 billion campus next to Amazon HQ2

photoVTU image via PRNewswire

Virginia Tech says it will build a “revolutionary” 1 million-square-foot, technology-focused campus in Alexandria — envisioned as a $1 billion project that is part of a comprehensive higher-education package that was cited as a key reason Amazon selected Virginia for a new headquarters site.

Amazon’s HQ2 and the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will locate in National Landing, a newly branded neighborhood that encompasses parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. Specifically, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria partnered to present Amazon a 150-acre site in Crystal City that is a mixture of existing vacant buildings and developable land. Virginia Tech’s new campus will be located less than two miles away on U.S. Route 1 in Alexandria.

The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, which includes state support, will spark discoveries and help fill the immense demand for high-tech talent in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area and beyond, the school said.

More than 200 localities across the country competed to win Amazon’s HQ2 and its estimated 50,000 jobs — a competition that ended today when the company announced its plans.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and his leadership team worked for more than a year with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and other state officials to develop plans for the Innovation Campus.

“Watershed moment”

“This is a watershed moment for Virginia Tech and a great day for the commonwealth that we are committed to serve. As a land-grant research institution, we knew we needed to claim our role of driving economic development in Virginia,” said university President Tim Sands. “Our new Innovation Campus will be the global center of technology excellence and talent production — where highly skilled students, world-class faculty, smart ideas, and forward-thinking companies will meet to propel the commonwealth and the region forward.”

Virginia Tech is known for its long-standing excellence in computer science, engineering, data analytics, and technology. The university ranks No. 8 in the nation for engineering research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey, and the College of Engineering No. 13 for its undergraduate program, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings.

“Today is a historic day for the commonwealth,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). “The Innovation Campus will transform Virginia’s high-tech economy while also providing a pipeline of talent to industry all over Virginia, including Amazon. Once fully launched, it will benefit educational institutions and regions across the commonwealth.”

Virginia Tech has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Stonebridge Associates Inc. and the City of Alexandria to expedite construction. The Innovation Campus will be located on land owned by investment firm Blackstone Group LP’s real estate fund. The land, commonly referred to as Oakville Triangle, will be developed by Stonebridge.

The first 100 master’s degree students will enroll next year in temporary space, with the campus hosting a total of 500 master’s degree students within five years and, at scale, enrolling 750 master’s degree candidates and training hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

The project will greatly increase Virginia Tech’s already large existing footprint in Northern Virginia. Approximately 60,000 alumni live in the region, and Virginia Tech maintains seven facilities with operations in Old Town Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg.

Graduate degree programs and research opportunities at the new campus will focus on computer sciences and software engineering, while offering specializations in high-demand areas, including data sciences; analytics and collective decisions; security and the internet of things; and technology and policy. The campus will include a mix of academic, research, and innovation space, as well as areas for housing, industry partners, and, perhaps most importantly, collaboration.

The university and the state both committed to provide $250 million to seed the project. The funding model requires private philanthropy, industry partnerships, and the creation of other revenue streams by leveraging the innovative shared spaces of the campus plan.


About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.