Construction of a technology park at the University of Connecticut’s campus at Storrs — envisioned for three decades — is expected to begin later this year, with space for research equipment, flexible-use labs and incubator space leading the way.
The first building, the 113,000-square-foot “Innovation Partnership Building,” will break ground in December and is expected to be ready by the end of 2016. The construction of a road and water line is expected to start in April or May.
About $170 million in state bond money has been earmarked for the partnership building but that also includes funds for the road and water line. An early estimate said the building and equipment would total about $120 million, with $40 million for equipment alone.
The partnership building was initially scheduled to open in 2015. But its exterior design underwent major changes to increase its prominence, Laura Cruickshank, UConn’s master planner, told me.
Cruickshank said the original design let the building “fade into the landscape” and that ran counter to the university’s and the state’s emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — that the technology park is intended to embrace.
“We wanted to make sure the building represented the technology,” Cruickshank told me. “Now, it’s an object on the landscape rather than receding into the landscape.”
The partnership building will have clean rooms, research space with high ceilings and labs outfitted with equipment designed to take sensitive readings.
Eventually, the technology park is expected to encompass 900,000 square feet on 300 acres to be located off North Eagleville Road. The park is expected to have three clusters of buildings, possibly for a total of nine, and could be constructed over the next 10 to 15 years.
UConn hopes the technology park will raise its profile as a research university and become a center for industry and manufacturers to work more closely with students and faculty. The goal is to develop ideas, science and research projects — and become an engine of economic growth for the state.
There had long been a concern that Connecticut has fallen behind in nurturing innovative start-ups and providing a nexus between higher education and the commercial sector. The tech park is an example of trying to regain lost ground, UConn officials have said.
The technology park was proposed in the 1980s. Officials have blamed siting and zoning problems, and the falling out among the private partners for the decades-long delay.