Construction Begins on the Centennial Science Center

May 20, 2009

Breaking ground on the Centennial Science Center 
Breaking ground on the Centennial Science Center

North Carolina State University officials have broken ground on the next building to be developed on its Centennial Campus.

The Centennial Science Center, a privately developed two-story facility, will house corporate partners and university laboratories, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems.

The 72,000-square-foot structure will have office and lab space, and will be developed and managed by the Keystone Corporation, an international real estate development firm. Similar to other private development projects on Centennial Campus, the land on which the property will be developed will be leased. The $17 million facility will be built on a site at the corner of Varsity Drive and Main Campus Drive. Construction is expected to begin in June and should be complete in the summer of 2010. No state-appropriated funds will be used toward development of the building.

Aerial rendering of the Centennial Science Center 
Aerial rendering of the Centennial Science Center

Approximately 20,000-square-feet of space will be occupied by the FREEDM Center, which is the first NSF-funded engineering research center to focus on revolutionizing the country's power grid by integrating it with new, alternative energy technologies, such as wind and solar. The center is partnering with universities, industry and national laboratories in 28 states and nine countries, and it is being supported by an initial five-year $18.5 million grant from NSF, along with an additional $10 million in institutional support and industry membership fees. The goal of the consortium is to decentralize the nation's century-old power grid so that a new power system can enable consumers to generate their energy from renewable sources and sell excess energy to the power companies.

Under the leadership of the center's director, Dr. Alex Huang, Progress Energy Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, researchers plan to develop the system based on breakthrough power semiconductor and power electronics technology, advanced energy storage technology and state-of-the art digital communication technology.

The Centennial Science Center will have 72,000 sq. ft. of office and lab space 
The Centennial Science Center will have 72,000 sq. ft. of office and lab space

"The Centennial Science Center is an important new addition to Centennial Campus," said NC State Chancellor James L. Oblinger. "With our continued focus on collaborating with our corporate and institutional partners to develop new technologies in smart grid energy, the Science Center will be the prime location for that effort. For example, we intend to develop a one-megawatt green energy hub as part of the building that will serve as a test-bed for the FREEDM Center's research efforts and demonstrate the technology's potential."

"We're very excited about this event," says Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, dean of NC State's College of Engineering. "This building provides a cornerstone for establishing North Carolina as a leader in 21st century energy technologies and turning concepts into reality to benefit not only our state but our nation and the world."

Centennial Campus is a 1,334-acre multi-use research and education campus and is home to 66 corporate, institutional and governmental partners. Created in 1984, the campus also holds two top university programs (Engineering and Textiles), along with more than 75 university research centers, institutes, laboratory and departmental units. The campus also contains a public middle school, residential units, greenway trails, fishing pier and lake, and an 18-hole public championship golf course, which will open in July. Future development includes the James B. Hunt Jr. library and additional office and lab buildings.