SmithGroup, an internationally recognized architecture firm with offices in 15 cities, will design the first academic building for Virginia Tech’s new campus in Alexandria.

The university announced in June that it will build its Innovation Campus in Alexandria as part of a new 65-acre mixed-use development and innovation district in National Landing, just steps away from the future Potomac Yard Metrorail Station.

SmithGroup, chosen from an inspiring mix of firms that responded to a public RFP issued last summer, will provide full design services for the first 300,000-square-foot building.

“We reviewed proposals from the ‘best of the best’ and SmithGroup stood out not just for their striking designs but also because of their understanding of what we strive to achieve and the culture we are trying to foster,” said Brandy Salmon, managing director of the Innovation Campus.

SmithGroup is known for designing world-class buildings, including the University of Pennsylvania Stephen A. Levin Neural & Behavioral Sciences Building, University of Texas at Dallas Engineering and Computer Science West building, and the headquarters of DC Water in Washington, D.C.

At Virginia Tech, SmithGroup designed both Holden Hall and ICTAS II on the Blacksburg campus.

David Johnson, vice president and higher education design strategist for SmithGroup, said he’s ready to build on a longstanding relationship with Virginia Tech.

“We appreciate Virginia Tech’s inspiration and aspiration as a leading 21st century land grant university,” he said. “Our work is closely aligned with social change, equity, and inclusion – values that match closely with Virginia Tech’s bold vision to expand its presence in the Washington, D.C. region.”

Liza Morris, assistant vice president for planning and university architect for Virginia Tech, said SmithGroup impressed the selection team with new ideas and their depth of knowledge and commitment to sustainability.

“This first academic building will set the standard for our campus in Alexandria,” she said. “We are excited to work with a firm that embraces new technologies in the ways they have demonstrated, and designs spaces that foster collaboration and engagement through processes that are themselves collaborative and engaging, all in direct alignment with our vision.”

SmithGroup also partnered with the City of Alexandria to develop an Eco-District in Old Town North as well as a holistic plan to revitalize and guide development at Eisenhower West.

The first class of Innovation Campus master’s degree students will enroll in the fall of 2020. When the Alexandria campus is built out in about 10 years, it will enroll 750 master’s candidates and hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

The new campus will triple Virginia Tech’s footprint in Northern Virginia, where approximately 60,000 alumni live.

SmithGroup’s team includes a number of Virginia Tech alumni, including Sven Shockey, vice president and corporate design director, who is one of the lead designers on the Innovation Campus building.

Lance Collins, the newly named vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus, said he’s eager to work with SmithGroup when he joins Virginia Tech on Aug. 1.

“Our team made a great selection,” he said. “We are lucky to have a firm with such expertise in higher education and a connection to Alexandria.”

— Written by Michael Stowe