UC celebrates topping-out of Digital Futures Building

The building will harness interdisciplinary research in the Cincinnati Innovation District®

The University of Cincinnati on Tuesday hosted a topping-out ceremony for its Digital Futures Complex in the new Cincinnati Innovation District® or CID.

The CID is a connective ecosystem that attracts, produces, retains and develops talent by co-locating and collaborating with organizations. Powered by UC, the district is the only purpose-built innovation district in the nation. The CID model forged the path for its groundbreaking economic development formula — all focused on talent — and serves as the model for Ohio.

“The building is not only a statement by the University of Cincinnati as it plans to expand its brand and influence, but it’s also a statement by the Uptown Consortium, our city, our region and our state,” said Tom Rowe, principal of Terrex Development & Construction.

A group of people in safety vests and hardhats stand in front of a skeletal steel frame building.

UC dignitaries stand in front of the Digital Futures Building, set to open in 2022 as part of the Cincinnati Innovation District®. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

UC President Neville Pinto praised the construction crews that worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The six-story building will offer 180,000 square feet of space for interdisciplinary research when it opens in the summer of 2022. Its research topics include artificial intelligence, sensors and informatics, among many others.

“A little over a year ago, the state of Ohio turned to UC and Children’s Hospital to launch the Cincinnati Innovation District® with an investment of $100 million from Jobs Ohio,” Pinto said. “This celebration today for the topping out of UC’s Digital Futures Building is another significant milestone for the Cincinnati Innovation District®.”

Dignitaries signed a steel beam adorned with an evergreen and an American flag that crews hoisted into place high atop the building. Greg Herrin, vice president of Messer Construction, said the tree is a symbol of growth and safety for the project.

“It’s always exciting to see a new building take shape,” he said.

This place is all about talent. We know that talent is drawn to places where innovation occurs, and organizations are drawn to that talent.

 David J. Adams,UC Chief Innovation Officer

The growing list of corporate partnerships include Microsoft Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati Bell, FIS, Kao Brands and Hillman Accelerator, among others. The nerve center for the district, UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub, opened in 2018 with a makerspace and Venture Lab pre-accelerator program and is at full capacity in just two years. Today, it is home to 17 businesses and organizations and is nearing its 50th start up.

“The value of the Innovation Hub as the gateway to talent and knowledge at the University of Cincinnati has been demonstrated with four of these 17 joining us during the pandemic when retrenchment was more the order of the day,” Pinto said.

Pinto said the Cincinnati Innovation District® will harness what he calls UC’s “Next Research,” a nod to UC’s strategic direction called “Next Lives Here.”

“This is research powered by knowledge and expertise of the rapidly growing and rapidly changing digital economy,” Pinto said. “It’s built on partnerships both external and internal to the university and focuses fiercely on problems that most matter to society.”

A man in a hardhat and safety vest stands at a podium.

Greg Herrin, vice president of Messer Construction, talks about the Digital Futures Building during a topping-out ceremony Tuesday. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

David J. Adams, architect of the Cincinnati Innovation District® and UC’s first chief innovation officer, said the district is a model for others across Ohio and the nation. The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation across business and industry, he said.

“It’s accelerated the need for world-class research and digitally fluent talent. Here at the CID, we serve both,” Adams said. “This place is all about talent. We know that talent is drawn to places where innovation occurs, and organizations are drawn to that talent.”

The new building will be home to UC’s Interdisciplinary Digital Futures Institute, bringing together not just science and technology but perspectives and expertise from across UC’s colleges, said Patrick Limbach, UC’s vice president for research.

“This is going to be the first space at UC dedicated to interdisciplinary research,” Limbach said. “This will be a place for the best from UC to come together to solve problems that matter.”

Featured image at top: Construction crews install the last construction beam atop the UC’s new Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a face mask signs a steel beam that says Digital Futures and Cincinnati Innovation District.

UC Chief Innovation Officer David J. Adams signs the last steel beam for UC’s new Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Three people in hardhats and safety vests gesture to the sky.

UC took part in a topping-out ceremony for its new Digital Futures Building. Here guests watch the installation of the last beam high atop the six-story building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a hardhat and safety vest signs a steel beam that says University of Cincinnati.

Pat Limbach, UC’s vice president for research, signs the last steel beam for the Digital Futures Building, home to UC’s new Interdisciplinary Digital Futures Institute. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a hardhat and safety vest stands at a podium.

UC President Neville Pinto delivers remarks Tuesday during the topping-out ceremony for the Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A steel beam features Neville Pinto's signature over the phrase "Next is here!"

UC took part in a topping-out ceremony for the new Digital Futures Building. UC President Neville Pinto signed a steel beam with his name with a reference to UC’s strategic direction called Next Lives Here: “Next is here!” Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a hardhat and safety vest stands at a podium.

Tom Rowe, principal of Terrex Development & Construction, delivers remarks Tuesday during the topping-out ceremony for the Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A group of people in safety vests and hardhats stand gathered in front of a steel structure.

Guests watch the topping-out for UC’s new Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a hardhat and safety vest stands at a podium.

UC Vice President for Research Patrick Limbach delivers remarks Tuesday during the topping-out ceremony for UC’s Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

A man in a hardhat and safety vest stands at a podium.

UC Chief Innovation Officer David J. Adams delivers remarks during Tuesday’s topping-out ceremony for the new Digital Futures Building. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand