Virginia Tech reached a milestone in development of its new Northern Virginia Innovation Campus in Alexandria, with the topping out of the first academic building.

Workers from construction manager at-risk Whiting-Turner hoisted the 37-ft-long steel beam to the northeast side of the building’s 11th floor at a Feb. 7 ceremony attended by university, state and local officials.

“We are building a tech community perfectly positioned to connect talented students with northern Virginia’s growing tech ecosystem,” said Innovation Campus Vice President and Executive Director Lance Collins. “In this process, details matter, and I am thankful for the contributions of everyone involved in the planning, design and construction of our campus to date.” 

The 300,000-sq-ft building is one of three academic facilities envisioned for the 3.5-acre campus, located near Amazon’s new Washington, D.C.-area headquarters. Designed by SmithGroup and scheduled to open in 2024, the largely glass facade will be shaped with multiple sides to maximize sunlight and solar energy capture using a variety of photovoltaic technologies.

According to Virginia Tech, floors one through seven will be approximately 35,000 sq ft each, while each of the final three floors will be about 12,000 sq ft. Rising above a 169-space underground parking garage, the ground floor will contain a large classroom/auditorium with seating for up to 355 guests. 

Other interior features include a 1,340-sq-ft cyber physical lab adjacent to a 465-sq-ft, two-story drone testing cage; maker space equipped with 3D printing and other technology; and an immersive experience lab capable of projecting data, art and other visual representations onto walls and floors. A 4,500-sq-ft eighth-floor roof deck will provide views of the Washington, D.C., skyline.

Since construction began in September 2021, Virginia Tech says Whiting-Turner workers have erected 3,300 tons of structural steel, placed 13,500 cu yd of concrete, and pumped 41.5 million gallons of water from the site.

Two additional 150,000-sq-ft academic buildings are planned for the Innovation Campus, which Virginia Tech says will host about 750 master’s and 200 doctoral students at full build-out. 

The Innovation Campus is part of the first phase of a new 19-acre mixed-use innovation district being developed by CDM Smith, which is also developing the Amazon headquarters campus. The evolving area will be served by a new Metrorail stop scheduled to open in May 2023.