New smart construction research center planned for Falls Church
Virginia Tech is planning to establish a center for smart construction in Falls Church in collaboration with top national commercial construction firm HITT Contracting.
The plan will advance the university’s work to realign programs in Northern Virginia around core research strengths and clear the way for the City of Falls Church, Fairfax County, and partners to move forward with an important project to develop a mixed-use district around the West Falls Church Metro station.
The larger development, which would encompass 40 acres near the West Falls Church metro station, would include a smart mobility research test bed developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
The latest developments in Falls Church are part of the university’s plan to realign programs in the D.C. area around thematic areas, a process that started more than three years ago, said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.
To facilitate the development, the plan calls for Virginia Tech to convey ownership of the Northern Virginia Center to the City of Falls Church, a real estate transaction that will provide financial support to advance the university’s program objectives in the region. At its meeting on Monday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors authorized the university to finalize negotiations with the city.
“We have a long history in the City of Falls Church and we are excited about this new chapter,” Clarke said. “Virginia Tech will help create a world-class smart construction research center — and the community will benefit from a vibrant, mixed-use district that will transform the neighborhood.”
Clarke and other university leaders traveled to Falls Church last week to talk with employees of the Northern Virginia Center about the evolution of the university’s plan to realign programs in the D.C. area around thematic areas.
Plans for the redeveloped property in Falls Church include a new headquarters office building for HITT Contracting and a Virginia Tech innovation lab dedicated to applied research and accelerating change in the built environment. In addition to HITT's offices and the innovation center, the property would include additional mixed-use residential and retail development, ample parking, and continued road networks, as contemplated by Fairfax County, Falls Church, and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. This plan provides improved neighborhood connectivity, walkability, and a vibrant setting for residents, office workers, and students.
Virginia Tech’s vision for the greater Washington, D.C., area focuses on the university’s growing strengths in clustered, thematic programs in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data analytics, business information technology, quantum computing, and other disciplines that will shape the way emerging technologies influence society.
It’s a strategy supported by the development of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, the creation of the new National Security Institute in Arlington, the development of the Academy of Data Science, the growing stature of Virginia Tech’s MBA and MIT programs, and this center for advances in smart building.
“As a 21st century land-grant university, Virginia Tech is focused on meeting the economic needs of the commonwealth and reimagining the future of graduate education,” said Clarke.
The university 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.
More than a dozen programs and faculty members based at the Falls Church location will be relocated. College deans will work with department heads, program directors, and other university leaders to determine next steps.
The university offers more than 40 graduate degree and certificate programs in Northern Virginia and, in addition to Falls Church, has facilities in these seven D.C. area locations: the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington; the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus HQ in Alexandria and its nearby campus; the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Children's National Research Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C.; the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg; the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center in Alexandria; the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory in Manassas; and the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Middleburg.