Carnegie Mellon, Carnegie Museums Awarded State Funding For New Panther Hollow Research Incubator on Carnegie Mellon Campus

BY Byron Spice - Fri, 2001-10-12 12:00  Printer-friendly version

PITTSBURGH-Construction of a new $31.4 million research and office facility in Panther Hollow at the western edge of the Carnegie Mellon University campus is scheduled to begin this spring with expected occupancy by summer 2003.

The new building is a project of the Panther Hollow Development Corp.(PHDC), a non-profit collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh that seeks to develop new facilities in the Panther Hollow corridor between the two institutions. The university, the Carnegie and several local and state officials have been discussing possible facility plans, engaging community leaders and constituents and seeking funding for this facility since the beginning of 2001.

Panther Hollow Development Corp. hired J.J. Gumberg and Co. to oversee the development and construction of the four-story, 120,000-square-foot, glass and masonry building, which includes a 270-space parking garage. The facility will provide much-needed space for high-technology companies and startups that wish to locate in Pittsburgh to expand their research, education and technology transfer collaborations with the region's major research organizations.

Today (Oct. 12), Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker awarded $6.2 million to support this building project as part of the Commonwealth's commitment to economic development. A large portion of the remaining needed funds will be financed through revenues generated by tenant lease arrangements.

Ellsworth Brown, president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh said his organization is pleased to be a partner with Carnegie Mellon in the Panther Hollow Development Corp., aimed at attracting new corporate investment, retaining the region's talent pool and strengthening Pittsburgh's performance as a center for high technology innovation and job creation.

"Oakland is our city's intellectual capital, and its development is an important part of a much larger vision for a stronger, more vibrant region," he said.

"The Panther Hollow project will promote research collaborations with corporate partners while giving national technology companies the venue to locate closer to Oakland's major research universities,'' said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon. "We are delighted that Intel Corp., Rand Corp. and the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, along with a number of other major high-tech companies and startups, have expressed serious interest in leasing space in this new building.''

Earlier this year, Intel Corp. established a new laboratory in Pittsburgh to do research in software systems for data storage. The laboratory's founding director is Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Carnegie Mellon's Carnegie Group professor of computer science. Satyanarayanan is on partial sabbatical from the university to serve as director of Intel Research, Pittsburgh, which is presently located in temporary space on the corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street.

"An important goal in creating our new lab in Pittsburgh is to encourage collaboration between our researchers and Carnegie Mellon faculty and students,'' said Satyanarayanan. "Physical proximity is key to such collaborations. Our temporary location in Oakland will only be adequate for early phases of staffing. The Panther Hollow facility is exciting because it could offer state-of-the-art space within a short walk of the campus, so we look forward to the possibility of leasing space for the long term at this location.''

The new building is being designed by the Pittsburgh-based architectural firm L.D. Astorino and Associates. Initial building plans include applications of environmentally sustainable design derived in part from research conducted at Carnegie Mellon's Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics and its innovative "Intelligent Workplace" located on the top floor of Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall.

In addition to attracting technology-related companies to the area, PHDC officials said the project is also designed to create job opportunities that will help keep local college and university graduates in Pittsburgh.

"We see this new development as a way to boost the local economy and help make this region a growing corridor for technological innovation,'' said Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. "Our city has a rich history of business leadership and what better way to continue that tradition than by teaming up with some the nation's best technology companies and leading edge researchers.''Over the past several years, the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse Inc., an economic development initiative designed to build a cluster of companies focused on chip design, has seen the sector grow to more than 25 firms employing 2,900. Recent additions include a number of startups plus design centers by Sony and Oki. Greenhouse companies have added approximately 650 new jobs.

"We are dedicated to building an information technology base for our region, and it is through new projects like this Panther Hollow initiative and the leadership of our research universities that we will succeed,'' said James Roddey, chief executive of Allegheny County.

At Carnegie Mellon, for example, patents for new and emerging technologies have increased from 10 in 1996 to 41 in 2001. The number of technology company spin-offs since the creation of the university's technology transfer office in 1993 has climbed steadily. Fifty-seven Carnegie Mellon spin-offs have been created between 1993 and 2001. In 1999, the university reported royalties of $5 to $8 million from inventions. The year before, when it sold equity in Lycos, its income was $30 million.

The Panther Hollow Development Corp. was formed in February, 2001. Its officers include: Jared L. Cohon, Ellsworth Brown, Jeffrey Bolton, (Carnegie Mellon), Terrence O'Horo (Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh), Frank Brooks Robinson of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., Dan D. Sandman of USX Corp. and Carnegie Mellon trustees Arthur H. Aronson and Charles J. Queenan Jr.

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