The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter has undergone quite the facelift over the last few years, but the work is far from complete. Home to 170 companies, including five institutions for higher learning, startup businesses, retail space, apartments and restaurants, the fixture has grown dramatically from its humble beginnings as Piedmont Triad Community Research Center, housing research teams from the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
The school, the Center for Design Innovation, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina and tech company Inmar are just a few of the organizations that call the Innovation Quarter home. The diversity of companies and innovative approaches resulting in a "work-play-live" district earned the Innovation Quarter national recognition in June.
The Global Institute on Innovation Districts, a collection of leaders studying and developing innovation districts, named the Innovation Quarter as one of six areas to be represented on a steering committee that will further global research on innovation districts. These districts are zones in cities where public and private efforts are made to attract leading-edge companies, startups, business incubators, accelerators, research teams and others to one spot.
Graydon Pleasants, the head of real estate development at the Innovation Quarter, says this is proof that Winston-Salem is at the forefront of a growing movement toward work-play-live districts. Other cities on the committee include Pittsburgh, New York and St. Louis, along with Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Melbourne, Australia.
"Being selected as one of the leaders in [this study] is reinforcement that we are not alone in our thinking, but that this is happening all over the world," Pleasants says.
The Innovation Quarter is nearly 20 years in the making, with buildings and projects continually added. Pleasants says the emphasis is on building a creative space that offers a one-stop shop.
"The Innovation Quarter has demonstrated that a vibrant, urban environment that has activity going on all the time is where workers want to be," Pleasants says. "They want to have a place where they can live, work, learn and play in an urban environment."
Bailey Power Plant
A recent renovation in Innovation Quarter is the former Bailey Power Plant, which has undergone some major changes the last few years, according to Will Partin, senior director of development at Wexford Science & Technology, the company developing Innovation Quarter. "It was a...