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Rahm Touts New IIT Building as Part of Innovation Renaissance

By Ted Cox | March 7, 2014 4:38pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said a new IIT building solidified Chicago "as the epicenter of innovation."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said a new IIT building solidified Chicago "as the epicenter of innovation."
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

BRONZEVILLE — The mayor touted a new building at the Illinois Institute of Technology as the latest in a series of technological initiatives Friday and said it helped solidify Chicago "as the epicenter of innovation."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel cheered IIT's planned new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship as the college announced the architecture firms chosen to guide and design it and that it had closed in on sealing final funding for the project.

The mayor said that the new facility was about "taking something in your mind to market" and compared it to recent technological initiatives including a digital lab project with the University of Illinois to be built in Goose Island and the biomedical center in Streeterville, as well as Chicago Public Schools' emphasis on STEM schools focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

Emanuel stressed that it wasn't about abstract ideas, but about product creation and innovation, a point echoed by IIT President John Anderson, who spoke of the university's "innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem." Anderson emphasized it was ultimately about product creation and commercialization.

According to Anderson, the new $40 million, 100,000-square-foot facility will house IIT's Institute of Design and Idea Shop. The university recently collected a $10 million challenge grant from Kaplan, who will match every dollar raised for the building up to that maximum, and Anderson pledged to raise the full amount. It will be built on the university's main campus in Bronzeville.

The university announced Friday that Chicago-based John Ronan Architects will be the design architect on the building. Ronan did the award-winning Poetry Foundation. Boston's Shepley Bulfinch will be the programming architect.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2015.