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Governor proposes $101 million for new innovation center at Radford University

Governor proposes $101 million for new innovation center at Radford University


Gov. Ralph Northam has allocated nearly $101 million toward the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity planned for Radford University’s main campus.

The funding — which will require General Assembly approval — is part of the governor’s recently proposed 2020-22 budget. The money from the state is expected to cover the cost of the project, which Radford currently estimates to be $97.8 million.

The center would represent the largest capital construction project in the history of Radford University in terms of total funding and square footage, according to a university news release.

The 178,000-square-foot building would replace existing space for the College of Visual and Performing Arts — McGuffey and Porterfield halls would be torn down — and also would create interdisciplinary spaces serving the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and the Artis College of Science and Technology, according to university spokeswoman Caitlyn Scaggs.

The state approved detailed plans for the project in July 2018, and the university expects construction to start during the fall of 2020 and finish in spring 2023, assuming the funding is approved by legislators. Students and faculty are expected to begin using the new building during the summer of 2023 under the current timeline.

Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources approved the proposed demolition, and the environmental impact report has been approved by the Department of Environmental Quality, the university said. The contract for pre-construction services was awarded to Skanska on Oct. 8, according to the university.

While Radford has undertaken many multi-million-dollar capital projects in recent years — including a new gym, a humanities building and a science building — this is the first major project planned since President Brian Hemphill took the reins in July 2016, Scaggs said.

Hemphill said he is excited that the governor is investing heavily in Radford and believes the building will only make students’ education better. The school has been working with the state over the last few years to update facilities that Radford has deemed inadequate for current learning environments and technologies, while enhancing safety and accessibility for faculty, staff and the public, according to the university.

“I am very encouraged by these developments for our campus and our community. Furthermore, I remain optimistic that our vision for the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity will come to life and our focus on student engagement and success will continue to grow due to support from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said in a news release.

The facility would include classrooms, studios, performance and exhibition spaces and clinical research and laboratory space, in addition to multi-use environments, such as maker spaces, simulation and virtual and augmented reality laboratories and computer centers.

Additionally, the center will have lower maintenance costs than the aging buildings currently in place, according to the university.

Porterfield Hall was built in the early 1970s and McGuffey Hall in the early ‘50s. The university said it has spent $8 million to replace failing infrastructure in the two buildings over the last decade and predicts it would spend another $6 million to $8 million in the next five years.

Additionally, starting the building process now will save an additional $20 million, assuming an average 4% annual inflation rate, according to plans from the university.

Del. Chris Hurst D-Blacksburg, said in the release that he supports the project.

“Working closely with my colleagues in the General Assembly, I will fully advocate for this project and other priorities that will significantly enhance the learning environment at Radford University,” he said.

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