Originally created 12/16/04

USC breaks ground on research campus



COLUMBIA, S.C. - University of South Carolina officials broke ground Wednesday on two buildings that will be part of a planned 5-million-square-foot research campus in downtown Columbia.

The buildings are part of the first phase in developing the research campus in the next 10 to 20 years.

The plans unveiled Wednesday are for two five-story buildings of more than 100,000 square feet - one which will house university faculty researchers and one for researchers from the private sector.

Ultimately, the research campus will blend space for retailers, offices and labs for researchers.

Construction on the two buildings will begin in the spring of 2005 and be completed by fall 2006, said Craig Davis whose company is developing the first phase.

Davis said the price tag is about $40 million.

Breaking ground on these two "anchor" buildings of the campus symbolizes continuing progress on a vision for a research campus that will be a magnet for attracting bright minds and innovative companies to Columbia and the state, said university president Andrew Sorensen.

"By creating a vibrant, knowledge-based community, we become a powerful engine for creating higher paying jobs and raising per-capita income throughout the state," Sorensen said.

Much of the research will focus on new energy sources, said Harris Pastides, USC's vice president of research. Pastides said he expects many of the researchers housed in the university building to be involved with hydrogen fuel cell and nanotechnology research.

Fuel cells, which researchers believe could one day be a new energy source for cars and power plants, combine hydrogen and oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity, heat and water vapor.

Nanotechnology, the science of engineering materials at the atomic level, can be used to produce better silicon chips, gigabyte disk drives, medical devices and fabrics.