The partners gathered on a sunny Friday morning on the patio of a school they built a decade ago to mark the construction halfway point of their latest venture and to talk of change to come to Roanoke.
“It’s a major milestone in our vision for an academic health center. We have momentum that is absolutely incredible,” said Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands. “If you think back 10 years ago, we didn’t have the partnership, we didn’t have the buildings, we didn’t have anything going on. All of the sudden – and it really is all of the sudden – a decade later, we’re sitting here seeing this institute double.”
Sands was speaking from a makeshift podium set up on the patio of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and School of Medicine. Behind him, the operator of a large crane was awaiting a signal from the institute’s founding director Michael Friedlander to lift in place a beam to top off the structural framework on the $91.7 million and nearly 140,000-square-foot building.
With the second research building comes the plan by Tech to continue with Carilion Clinic in building a health sciences technology campus that will become part of Roanoke’s innovation corridor.
Mayor Sherman Lea said the project has “set the stage of a new business opportunity for many in this city for years to come.”
The ceremonial beam was signed by Tech and Carilion executives, doctors, researchers and students.
“This structure symbolizes the strength of the relationship and our partnership with Virginia Tech,” said Carilion Chief Medical Officer Patrice Weiss. The collaboration has brought many physicians and scientists to Roanoke.
Sands expects in the next decade that it will bring in companies and spawn startup and spin-off businesses.
The campus, he said, “will bring talent from all over the world, not only to participate in what’s going on in this campus, but in building up the innovation ecosystem for southwest Virginia.”