This Friday, North Carolina's Research Triangle Park (RTP) will launch a new master plan that will transform the one of the oldest and largest research and science parks in North America. The Research Triangle Foundation of NC, developer and manager of RTP, says that the new plan's priorities include “maximiz[ing] efficiency, mobility and synergy among the region’s universities, businesses and governments” and fulfilling the organization's “commitments to environmentally sustainable development.”
RTP was established in 1959 as a center for R&D, strategically located in the middle of the triangle formed by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, and Duke University in Durham.
The foundation has engaged Cooper, Robertson & Partners, a planning and urban design firm with headquarters in New York City, to produce the plan and and guide implementation of its recommendations. Architectural firm Grimshaw is collaborating in the areas of landscape and buildings, and engineering firm Buro Happold in natural systems utilities.
The new master plan will establish high-level direction to inform changes in such areas as land use, transportation, zoning, amenities, and infrastructure development at RTP. A project description from Grimshaw says the master plan emphasizes three primary strategies: “refurbishment and modernization of existing facilities, the creation of multi-tenant clusters throughout the park to foster interaction and collaboration, and … targeted mixed-use urban hubs that would provide pedestrian-oriented, transit-tied centers able to provide housing and social amenities that serve and attract the workforce of the park.”
The 7,000-acre RTP hosts more than 170 companies employing more than 39,000 knowledge workers. Companies with facilities at RTP include IBM, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, NetApp, Credit Suisse, BASF, Fidelity Investments, Bayer CropScience, and EMC. Government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), also have centers in RTP.
In an announcement from RTP, Richard Daugherty, chair of the task force assigned to oversee the master plan, acknowledged that, while the park has been successful at fostering R&D and creating employment in the Triangle region, “the original development plan for the Park has not been updated since the 1960s.” A “re-envisioning” of the park has become necessary, he believes, considering “how drastically the environment in which research parks and innovative economies operate has transformed over the past few years.”