Wichita State on Track for Innovation Campus Debut

WICHITA, Kan. — The new 116,000-square-foot Experiential Engineering Building and 90,000-square-foot Airbus North Engineering Center at Wichita State University are on track to debut this fall. Together, they will be the first buildings to open on the university’s 150-acre Innovation Campus, designed to enhance applied learning and research at the school.

Construction on the $32.7 million Experiential Engineering Building began last summer. Locally based Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. is serving as the construction manager on the project, while locally based WDM Architects is working with Chicago-headquartered Perkins + Will on the design.

The building will feature labs and various collaborative workspaces. One of its key elements is the makerspace designed to host creators and inventors of every age and background. Officially named Go Create, a Koch Collaborative, the makerspace will be an innovation trifecta — part manufacturing plant, part design studio and part garage workshop, reported Wichita State News.

The Airbus North American Engineering Center, aka Partnership 1, is also scheduled for completion this fall. GLMV Architecture is serving as the architect on the project, while Crossland Construction Company Inc. is the construction manager. Both have local offices in Wichita.

Airbus, an international aircraft manufacturer, opened its first design and engineering facility in downtown Wichita in 2002. The move to the new Innovation Campus gives the company access to support infrastructure such as engineering labs, research faculty, conference facilities and educational opportunities, according to a statement. Airbus also plans to partner with the university and take advantage of the applied-learning model by helping engage students in real-world engineering projects.

“Our presence on the Innovation Campus will help us enhance products and business processes to create value for our customers,” said John O’Leary, vice president of Airbus Americas Engineering, in a statement. “The campus provides an environment that fosters the transition of innovative ideas into real-world uses and value for the company.”

The university also recently chose Crossland Construction Company Inc. to work on the second and largest phase of infrastructure for the Innovation Campus, according to Wichita State News. Expected to begin in the next 60 days, the utilities and infrastructure project will include most of the major utilities and roads required to support future development on the Innovation Campus. Included in this phase will be the construction of Innovation Way as well as a pedestrian mall that will serve as an organizational feature for future building development, accommodate emergency vehicles and be a shared easement for multiple utilities.

“It’s exciting to see the pieces of Innovation Campus coming together,” WSU President John Bardo told Wichita State News. “Our intention is that this 120-acre space becomes a stimulus for applied learning, a nurturing home for inventors and entrepreneurs and an accelerator for economic growth for the people of Kansas. Innovation Campus construction itself is an important economic catalyst for Kansas, employing hundreds in the construction, engineering and design of the campus.”

In addition to the Experiential Engineering and Partnership 1 facilities, the new Innovation Campus will also eventually be the new home of the College of Business, adding to the university’s goal of attracting new businesses while retaining and developing within the pre-existing industries in Wichita.