Illinois Tech breaks ground on Kaplan Institute

Chicago architect and Illinois Institute of Technology professor John Ronan will lead the design of the institute.   File photo

Illinois Institute of Technology broke ground on its first new academic facility in 40 years.

The forthcoming Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship will serve as hub for invention at Illinois Tech, thanks to an $11 million gift from alumnus and long-time board member Ed Kaplan.

Kaplan is a graduate of the mechanical engineering school and is the co-founder of bar-code company Zebra Technologies.

"Tech innovation is about making things that solve real, meaningful problems," Kaplan said. "The Kaplan Institute, through its design and focus on collaboration, will prepare our students to develop meaningful technology innovations by learning how to work together to solve complex problems. This is not just a building; it's a place where forward-looking, world-class architecture will intersect with a hands-on, STEM-based integrated curriculum."

Chicago architect and Illinois Institute of Technology professor John Ronan will lead the design of the institute. The building will feature advanced building materials and sustainable processes, including a dynamic façade of foil cushions to adjust the amount of solar energy entering the building.

"The building is an idea factory – a place of creative collision between students and faculty across disciplines," Ronan said. "Unlike any classroom building on campus, the Kaplan Institute will be open, flexible and light-filled, designed to encourage unexpected encounters and information exchange across departments; a creative environment where ideas lead to meaningful innovation."

"The Kaplan Institute will nurture the advancement of creative ideas, foster interdisciplinary and external collaboration, and create a culture that enables innovation and tech entrepreneurship to flourish," Illinois Institute of Technology President Alan Cramb said. "It will attract students who will learn to convert their creative ideas into significant, viable innovations. They will become the leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs of the future."

Construction is expected to ramp up by March, with anticipated completion by late 2018.

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