Architect's rendering on the Watt Family Innovation Center.

Architect’s rendering on the Watt Family Innovation Center.

CLEMSON — Clemson University officials will break ground Friday to start construction of an innovation center that will transform student lives and the academic center of campus.

The planned four-story, 70,000-square-foot Watt Family Innovation Center will be built behind the R.M. Cooper Library. The building is made possible in part by a gift from the Watt family of Kennesaw, Ga. —  Charles and his wife, Linda; son, Steve, and his wife, Pam; and son, Mike, and his wife, Kim.

“This center will be an incubator of innovation for our students, faculty and industry partners,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “We are so grateful to Charles Watt and his family for making it possible. Clemson is one of the best universities in the country because gifts like this make it possible for us to provide a top-notch learning environment for our students.”

Architect's rendering on the Watt Family Innovation Center.

Architect’s rendering on the Watt Family Innovation Center.

Space in the student-centered environment, supported by a robust technology infrastructure, will be adaptable to serve a diverse community. It will connect current students with industry partners, state-of-the-art technology and new ways to use that technology.

Clemson alumnus and benefactor Charles Watt said, “We want to create an intellectual center that will prepare a new generation of scholars who can take ideas from concept to the marketplace. This will be a place to demonstrate and enable education, discovery and innovation.”

Expected occupancy is spring 2016.

Perkins+Will is providing architectural design for the new facility to be built by Turner Construction Co. The guiding principle is “designing for innovation,” to make the space flexible, inspiring, collaborative and social.

The Watt family gave $5.5 million to the university in 2012 as part of The Will to Lead capital campaign to raise $1 billion to support Clemson students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

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