The University of California at Berkeley is planning a $2 billion development for an aerospace education and research complex at a NASA campus in Silicon Valley.
(Bloomberg) — The University of California at Berkeley is planning a $2 billion development for an aerospace education and research complex at a NASA campus in Silicon Valley.
The Berkeley Space Center at NASA Ames Research Park will include offices, labs, classrooms, residences and retail space at the nearly 35-acre (14-hectare) site within the existing National Aeronautics and Space Administration research campus. Future phases of the project are expected to include short-term-stay facilities as well as student and faculty housing, according to a statement Monday.
Universities are increasingly seeking to develop sprawling off-campus centers to bring together research and industry. Models for the Berkeley center include Cornell University’s tech-focused complex on New York City’s Roosevelt Island and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology.
“I’m not aware of any location in the world that combines the essence of NASA and the essence of a UC Berkeley in the heart of Silicon Valley,” said Dan Kingsley, managing partner at SKS Partners, the San Francisco-based firm managing the project. “There’s still only one Silicon Valley.”
The development could be a boon to the area that’s come under pressure as technology firms lay off workers and cut costs. The total commercial space economy is forecast to double by 2030 to $1.1 trillion, according to Bank of America Corp. research.
The new center will use a site that NASA set aside more than two decades ago for academic and research purposes. It will be located at Moffett Field, an airfield to the south of San Francisco. The area was originally developed in the 1930s as a US Navy complex to host naval airships, or dirigibles. A massive air hangar still stands from that period and is undergoing restoration with the help of Google’s Planetary Ventures unit.
Construction of the Berkeley Space Center is expected to begin as soon as 2026, after receiving approvals, with the first buildings opening two years later, according to Kingsley. SKS will be responsible for raising investor financing and managing construction. CBRE Group Inc. will oversee leasing.
Potential tenants at the new center range from firms developing vertical take-off and landing aircraft to startups in astrobiology, a field that includes growing organisms in space and the impact of zero gravity on the human body, Kingsley said.
NASA’s Ames Research Center already contributes to studies of astronomy, satellite design and supercomputing.
“With this new research hub, public-private partnerships, together with NASA and the public sector, will enable UC Berkeley to advance many scientific, engineering and technical fields, and to push the global university model,” Alex Bayen, the associate provost at UC Berkeley overseeing the academic program, said.
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