George Mason University took another step toward selecting a partner for the Arlington Campus expansion by releasing the final RFP to its shortlist of candidates on Wednesday, July 22.
The release marks the final stage of the process to identify a development firm to design, build, finance, fit-out, and operate the building that will serve as the headquarters for the Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA).
The finalists, selected in June from a group of nine, include Corporate Office Properties Trust of Columbia, Maryland; Mason Innovation Partners of Bethesda (a joint venture of Edgemoor Real Estate & Infrastructure and Harrison Street); and Wexford Science & Technology of Baltimore.
“The release of this RFP is a critical milestone not only for this project but for Mason. It signifies the commitment that we’re making to our students and the Arlington community,” said Carol D. Kissal, senior vice president for administration and finance. “We’re confident in the plan we’ve laid out and the partners we’ve selected, and we look forward to seeing how they respond. The exciting part will be when we begin turning this bold idea into a thriving reality.”
Proposals are due Oct. 20, and the winning firm will be announced later this year.
Utilizing the site of the former Kann’s Department store, the Institute for Digital InnovAtion headquarters will be a mixed-use, multi-tenant building with approximately 400,000 square feet of new building space adjacent to Mason’s existing presence in Virginia Square. Mason will occupy approximately 225,500 square feet of the new space, leaving 135,000 square feet available for leasing by industry partners.
The new RFP presents plans for a new building and offers a vision for a location designed to promote the “colliding and mixing” of researchers, innovators and scholars from computing, policy, business, law, peace studies, the arts, humanities, public health and engineering engaged in cutting-edge research and innovation efforts, graduate education programs, commercialization activities, partnerships and community engagement—all interacting to advance and support digital innovation.
"The release of the detailed RFP represents the culmination of a year-long planning process to articulate Mason's vision for a flexible, resilient, community-centric building with the advanced cyberinfrastructure to support digital innovation ignited by the diverse perspectives of thousands of academic, industry and community partners,” said Liza Wilson Durant, the associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement at Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering. “The design of the facility is envisioned to flex and flow to accommodate the disruptive technologies and ideas we have yet to imagine."
The new building, which will also support Mason’s new School of Computing, will house tech-intensive laboratories, active and experiential learning classrooms, informal learning and convening spaces, incubators, accelerators, co-working facilities, makerspaces, community engagement spaces, corporate innovation labs and offices, retail, enhanced public spaces, and a below-grade parking garage.
The IDIA vision was launched in support of the Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP), the state’s 20-year initiative to produce 25,000 additional graduates in computing fields by 2039.
As Virginia’s largest and most diverse research university and the state’s largest producer of tech talent, Mason is expected to produce a steady supply of tech talent ensuring the region has a skilled and diverse workforce prepared to meet the high demand of Northern Virginia’s growing tech industry.
“It can be hard to look past the challenges of this moment, but Mason is taking the long view and continuing our important work,” said Kissal. “This initiative has huge implications for our community as a vital hub for research and innovation as well as being an engine for economic growth and a pipeline for world-class tech talent. For Mason, there is no other path but forward.”