Tech Prepares For New Facility
The first component of Louisiana Tech President Dan Reneau’s dream for a city-changing research park is being drawn up for bidding this summer in the midst of a statewide budget shock.
Enterprise Campus, which Reneau envisions to connect Tech and Ruston’s downtown with a series of research and development facilities occupied by technology companies, is still largely in design, but the first building is not far from construction. Design documents are being drafted by Ruston architect Mike Walpole, and the first building may be under construction by year’s end.
That presupposes that calls for deep cutbacks in higher education will leave the plans for the first building — approved and funded in the 2007 legislative session — unscathed.
Tech’s vice president for finance, Joe Thomas, said there has been no indication cuts would affect the plans for the building.
“We would hope they would continue to go forward since they were already budgeted and in the process,” Thomas said.
It is planned to occupy 41,000 square feet on the corner of Homer Street and Arizona Avenue, university officials said, and serve as a cornerstone for expansion of the research park. A set timetable for demolition at the site and pre-construction work has not been determined, Thomas said, but the administration is anxious.
The building’s $13 million initial budget is on-par with one of the last major campus building projects undertaken by the university involving state money — the university’s biomedical engineering building, completed in 2005.
“The tenant building is being designed to support high-tech companies with a particular focus on work in areas such as information technology, cyber security and digital media,” said Tech’s Les Guice, vice president for research and development. “A part of the second floor will host a cyber security laboratory that will be equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment. That lab will be used by several of our faculty, students and business partners.”
The building will include a generator and uninterrupted power supply to ensure work can continue in the event the university’s main system hiccups.
“A lot of attention has been focused on the design to make the building flexible for the changing needs of (research and development) companies,” Guice said.
Amenities like conference rooms, break rooms and an exercise facility are also planned parts of the building. Considerations for sustainability and energy efficiency are a part of the goal.
“These are the types of things that are very important in serving the needs of the types of companies that we are trying to attract,” Guice said.
Tech’s flagship startup firm — Network Foundation Technologies — and the university’s Center for Secure Cyberspace are expected to relocate into the facility once it is complete.