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Creativity + Innovation District

Serving as a vibrant hub for strategic and creative collisions, the Virginia Tech Creativity and Innovation District (CID) is a ‘playground for the innovators, inventors, and makers who will build the world of tomorrow.'

At its core, this project unfolds a dynamic living-learning community across 30,000 square feet of interdisciplinary space, creating a vibrant nexus for students, faculty, and entrepreneurial minds to merge, pushing the limits of collaboration. It lights the spark of innovation, guiding ideas from concept to commercialization, offering students a framework to amplify their influence from academia to the wider community. Integral to this are "bridge spaces," key in fostering close collaboration between companies, students, and academics. These spaces serve as incubators, nurturing ideas and guiding their evolution into viable businesses.

The upper floors provide an immersive residential experience for 600 curious students, creating a holistic environment for exploration and personal growth. Every aspect of the design intentionally promotes interaction and creativity, crafting an environment ripe for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

This project introduces a new language of transparency, its central axis and lower levels bathed in daylight, making visible the pulse of creativity and innovation across campus. The architectural narrative weaves stone gables with glass links, creating visual and physical dialogues with both the campus and its broader community. These structures not only echo the university's architectural heritage but also frame new outdoor spaces for learning, blending seamlessly with the campus's existing design language.

Community engagement is key, highlighted by the orange staircase that acts as both a physical and metaphorical connector across different levels and spaces within the building. It threads through the structure, narrating the community's collective story and linking various levels of interaction, from quiet study to active, collaborative innovation. The vibrant orange color signifies vitality and excitement, aligning with the university's branding to ensure high visibility and a strong sense of identity.

"If you’re interested in the creative process, from imagination to innovation, this is where you come to work with a like-minded community, no matter what your disciplinary origins."

– Ben Knapp, Founding Director, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT)

  • Sector: Higher Education
  • Scope: Architecture, Interior Design
  • Blacksburg, Virginia
  • 2021
  • 233,931 SF
  • pursuing LEED® Silver
  • Photos courtesy of © Keith Isaacs
  • Excellence in Construction (EIC) Award for Educational – Public & Private Schools, ABC Virginia, 2022
  • Excellence in Architecture, DBIA Mid-Atlantic Region, 2022
  • Project of the Year, DBIA Mid-Atlantic Region, 2022
  • On-Campus: Best Implementation of Mixed-Use or Live/Learn, Student Housing Business Innovator Awards, 2022
Project Team
Jane Cady Rathbone
Design Principal
David Keith
Design Build Principal
Arthur J. Gaskin
Project Manager
Michael C. Beaver
Co Project Manager
Rebecca B. Ensogna
Project Architect
Matthew J. Lee
Interior Designer
Jean Webster
Project Architect
Stephen Ste. Marie
Project Architect
W.M. Jordan Company
Criteria Document Consultant
Newcomb & Boyd
MEP Engineering, Acoustical, Security, Lighting, and Audiovisual Systems
Lynch Mykins
Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering
Surface 678
Landscape Architect