Communities Turn Old Buildings Into New Opportunities

Walk into the atrium of the University Technology Park at IIT near downtown Chicago and you’ll see a cutting-edge facility. Natural light pours into the common area. Take a stroll down the hallway and you’ll see wet and dry lab space and offices that are home to emerging companies. The building, on the historic Ludwig Mies van der Rohe campus, is busy with Illinois Institute of Technology undergraduates, entrepreneurs and researchers.

A stark contrast from this once abandoned lab.

In 2006, the IIT and its private developer partner, Wexford Science and Technology, turned the 1959 chemistry research building into a mixed-use, multitenant, life sciences-focused facility. The Technology Business Center is now home to the 3.5 floors of new and emerging companies as well as sophisticated multi-disciplinary IIT research centers and IIT’s path-breaking “Idea Shop.”

“There are significant challenges with taking an older building and turning it into a research and development facility,” said David Baker, Executive Director of the University Technology Park at IIT. “But with the right partnerships and an innovative approach, we were able to turn this one-tenant building into a hub of innovation in the Chicago area.” 

The Technology Business Center in Chicago isn’t the only example of a university turning mid-century and historical buildings into new opportunities.

“There is a trend among university research parks right now. Many are turning older buildings into thriving facilities that create high-wage jobs, attract companies and ultimately revitalize the neighborhood,” said Eileen Walker, Association of University Research Parks (AURP) Chief Executive Officer. “The University Technology Park at IIT and others have been successful so we’ve asked them to share their experiences to help others navigate the challenges of working with older buildings.”

This September, AURP will offer the workshop “Opportunities or Albatross: Working with Older Buildings” at the 2012 International Conference which will be held September 19-21. University leaders will gather in Madison, Wisconsin for a look at how to turn outdated buildings into cutting-edge university research park facilities.

For more information on AURP’s International Conference, visit  


About AURP: The Association of University Research Parks is a professional association of university related research and science parks. AURP’s mission is to foster innovation, commercialization and economic growth through university, industry and government partnerships. For more information, visit AURP’s Web site at or contact Chelsea Simpson at [email protected].

About the 2012 International Conference: The Association of University Research Parks (AURP) will welcome university research, science and technology park professionals to Madison, WI September 19-21, 2012. For more information and to register, visit