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Arizona State Plans $185M Science and Technology Building

As part of a developing innovation district intended to train future generations for technology jobs, ASU is investing heavily in educational and research facilities that will be open to tech industry partners.

A monolithic sign sits at the entrance to Arizona State University
(TNS) — Arizona State University has embarked on a massive expansion of its Polytechnic campus in East Mesa to address the expected surge in tech jobs in the state.

University officials said the $185 million Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 12 (ISTB12) project is its largest single investment on land that once was part of the old Williams Air Force Base and that it "moves forward the university's developing Innovation Research District adjacent to the campus."

Also called the Polytechnic Innovation Zone, the district also is home to ASU's College of Health Solutions.

The university is pitching partnerships with private industry in developing the district, noting "its strong focus on project-based learning, interdisciplinary laboratories and regional transportation assets."

It says the district "specializes in hands-on exploration of innovative solutions in aviation, renewable energy, human-technology integration, comprehensive commercial printing and design services, and on-demand digital manufacturing, as well as developing solutions to better health outcomes."

"Industry partnerships are key to ASU Polytechnic Innovation Zone's hands-on, project-based learning approaches, making it an ideal co-location opportunity for companies with a focus on interdisciplinary sciences, engineering, management, technology and education," ASU states in its website pitch to private companies. "As a tenant, you have access to ASU facilities, faculty and students, as well as a wealth of on-site resources."

Those resources include, ASU states, "a labor force of 700,000+ ... within a 20-minute commute, flight simulators, consumer behavior research, semiconductor fabrication, expansion of ASU College of Health Solutions programs to improve the future of health."

"ASU Polytechnic Innovation Zone offers a unique co-location opportunity. Tenants have access to engineering students and advanced research from expandable drones and flexible robotics to metal 3D printing," the university's pitch states.

ISTB12 is ASU's largest single capital investment on the Polytechnic campus," said Alex Kohnen, ASU's facilities development and management vice president.

"This state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing research and educational center will be a gateway between our future innovation zone and our existing campus as ASU continues to support Arizona's new economy initiatives," he said.

ASU Polytechnic opened in 1996 and shares 600 acres with Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a Veteran's Administration Clinic and the Silvestre Herrera Army Reserve Center.

The new multi-level research and education building will become a centralized location for Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering's new School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks.

The university said ISTB12 will build "on Polytechnic's long-standing reputation as a solutions-focused hub for engineering and technology education, research and collaboration."

The 173,194-square-foot building will consist of three floors and 128,828 programmable square feet for office, meeting, instructional, research and collaboration spaces "to prepare students to contribute to engineering solutions for societal challenges," the university said.

It will include specific space and labs specializing in additive manufacturing, robotics for smart manufacturing and industry automation, cyber manufacturing and operations research, semiconductor manufacturing, and manufacturing systems for the energy sector.

"After completing the ambitious ISTB7 project on ASU's Tempe campus last year, our collaborative project team is eager to bring another high-performance research facility to ASU, this time to the Polytechnic campus," said Carlos Diaz, project director for McCarthy Building Companies.

"Our laboratory construction team is working with university and project partners to build another state-of-the-art facility that Sun Devils will be proud of for years to come."

ISTB12 is the latest among dozens of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design projects underway or recently completed on ASU campuses.

McCarthy Building Companies also constructed the $192 million, 231,854-square-foot ISTB7 on ASU's main campus, which was completed in spring 2022 and received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Diaz said sustainability features include rainwater collection for site landscaping as well as solar-ready infrastructure. The project is expected to meet ASU sustainability goals by achieving LEED Silver certification.

"ISTB12 creates not only a new gateway for the campus itself, but also a powerful physical and symbolic connection to a future Innovation District that will capitalize on industry partnerships and collaborations," said Mark Kranz, design director for SmithGroup.

"The three-story U-shaped design is connected by a 'collaboration bridge' that creates a shaded courtyard and breezeway at the Terrapin Mall, one of the campus' main pedestrian thoroughfares."

Kranza said the design "complements and elevates the campus' existing iconic architectural character with highly articulated metallic panels, concrete masonry units, low-E glazing and calibrated shading elements."

Completion is scheduled for November 2025.

©2023 East Valley Tribune (Mesa, Ariz.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.