Last month, Los Angeles moved one step closer to realizing the first key piece of its Cleantech Corridor, a project championed by outgoing mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Like other cities around the country, Los Angeles is racing to capture tech-related jobs and businesses by providing flexible incubator space designed to foster innovation. The La Kretz Innovation Campus, which broke ground on June 19 and will house the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), is expected to catalyze a cleantech industry hub stretching four miles along the Los Angeles River. The groundbreaking was one of the last official events of Mayor Villaraigosa's term in office.
Buro Happold is working with John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects to renovate the campus’s future home; an existing 30,000ft² warehouse originally constructed in the early 20th century. The program revolves around the primary tenant LACI, a non-profit founded on the premise that cleantech can’t make an impact until it can compete in the market. LACI helps commercialize clean technologies by fostering startups through the process of turning good ideas into market ready products and services. To that end, the campus will feature wet and dry labs and a workshop where companies can develop and test prototypes. Classrooms and conference spaces will facilitate workforce training and mentoring programs as well as provide resident companies with a place to present to potential investors or existing stakeholders. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, one of LACI’s founding partners, will be a fellow tenant in the building.
Buro Happold is carefully integrating building systems so that the facility operates on a continuous demand response system, an energy load management strategy that controls the building’s electricity through a centralize control system. This control system ties together room reservations, sensors, lighting and services to optimize energy use. On-site photovoltaic arrays shade parking and further ensure the project will meet performance goals. The campus also plans to apply the Sustainable Technology Environments Program, better known as STEP, a pilot program for rating the sustainability of information communications technology systems in the built environment.
The groundbreaking is a fitting conclusion to the mayor’s term. A longtime advocate for the green sector, Villaraigosa placed green business and technology at the heart of his office’s economic development strategy; the 2007 Green L.A. Plan. By bringing R&D, education and business together in a flexible, open environment, the La Kretz Innovation Campus establishes an innovative support system for Los Angeles’s green economy that will position the city for future competitiveness.