Recognized as much for its symbolism as for the structure it will become, the imminent Bioscience 3 building on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was hailed in high fashion during a groundbreaking ceremony on April 3.
In addition to the shoveling of dirt, state and university dignitaries joined key city and private-sector members in ushering in the newest addition to the Fitzsimons Innovation Community in Aurora, a 125-acre parcel destined for abundant growth.
“Today marks a major milestone for us,” CU President Bruce Benson told a group of more than 80 community members in the lobby of the first dedicated bioscience building on campus, Bioscience 1. “We’ve worked many years to get to this point,” Benson said.
A building for collaboration
Recognizing the Colorado congressional delegation for its aid in pushing through tough negotiations with the original land tenants – the U.S. Army – Benson labeled the day a milestone for finally opening the doors to innovation.
The 115,000-sqare-foot, $55-million Bioscience 3 building, scheduled for completion in 2019, marks the end of 20 years of negotiations and the beginning of important expansion, expected to bring jobs and talent to the Aurora campus.
Bioscience 3 will house laboratories, research bays, open offices, office suites, and flexible warehouse and distribution space, with a construction start slated for May. A Bioscience 4, 5 and 6 are also in expansion plans.
Poised for streamlined innovation, with scientists and entrepreneurs combining efforts in bringing health care technology to the public, nearly half of the space already stands leased, Benson said. Amenities will include a 100-seat flexible auditorium, shared conference facilities, a café with outdoor seating and covered parking.
A lesson in perseverance
CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman said the university has ushered in a new way of innovation. “We’ve really tried to change the culture of how we do not only intellectual property creation from our own faculty, but how we can relate that to industry and the private sector,” Elliman said, commending CU Innovations. “This campus is the facility that will allow that to happen.”
During the 2016-2017 fiscal year on the CU Anschutz campus, 20-plus patents were granted, six more start-up companies formed and invention disclosures increased by 125 percent.
Acknowledging the “immense frustration” from years of development stagnation on the property, Elliman credited two things for the positive outlook. “One was a new administration in Aurora. We couldn’t have done this without the City Council and Mayor Stephen Hogan,” he said.
“The other was the successful negotiations with the United States Army, which took a little bit longer than the creation of the Earth,” Elliman said, referring to a recent resolution allowing the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority to move forward with expansion plans. “For that we have our delegation to thank.”
A concerted effort
The Fitzsimons Innovation Community, which will stretch the CU Anschutz campus’ reach northward across the old Fitzsimons Golf Course, will include science- and math-focused elementary, middle and high schools, apartments, hotels and more.
“The development of this ecosystem takes a lot of work from a lot of dedicated people, people who want to build something very special in Colorado,” said Steve VanNurden, FRA president and CEO. “At its full potential, it will be like no other place in the nation,” he said.
VanNurden acknowledged the private partners in the audience, including developer Mortenson, which, along with MOA Architects, designed the three-story Bioscience 3 building and brings experience in building biotech communities to Colorado. Mortenson developed Discovery Square near the Mayo Clinic.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman both heralded the development of the CU Anschutz and Fitzsimons Innovation campuses for its benefits to the local and state economies and to society at large.
“Right here in the heart of Aurora is the opportunity to grow Colorado jobs, the economy and innovation,” Gardner said. The work and the breakthroughs that will happen within the building’s walls will change lives, he said.
The two current bioscience buildings house more than 65 companies and are generally at capacity.[perfectpullquote align="right" bordertop="false" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]At its full potential, it will be like no other place in the nation. – Steve VanNurden[/perfectpullquote]
A sign of things to come
Coffman commended everybody involved for their tenacity in pushing through to ensure the future of biosciences research and continued growth, which the representative has seen firsthand.
“My late father was in the military, and his last assignment was here,” Coffman said. “I was 9 years old, and the largest building not just on the post, but in the City of Aurora, was Building 500. I used to think it was so huge when I was growing up, and if you look at it now, it is dwarfed by all the buildings around it,” he said. “It’s truly a great day not just for this campus, but for Colorado.”
Elliman said the groundbreaking indeed was a “momentous” occasion. “But it’s really a bigger sign of what we see as the future of our role both as a university and our role in helping health care innovation,” he said. “And if you think Bioscience 3 is a good thing,” he said, “wait until you see Bioscience 4.”