Wake Forest Innovation Quarter has officially been recognized as a “Great Transformation” in the 2018 Great Places in North Carolina awards program, sponsored by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC).

A Great Transformation is a place that has been retrofitted and reenergized. Winston-Salem’s nomination highlighted the major efforts being taken to spur revitalization of a place that is central to the city’s identity and industrial heritage. The panel noted the importance of this project to the economic vitality of the community. John Morck, who served on the expert panel and is the Planning and Community Development Manager for the City of Wilson and a former APA-NC President, said, “This is what a lot of cities hope to have – a mixed-use innovation district in the heart of their downtown.”

Professional’s Category: Great Transformation
Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, Winston-Salem

The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, an urban mixed-use innovation district in Downtown Winston-Salem, has developed through the transformation/renovation of former R. J. Reynolds tobacco facilities adjacent to downtown Winston-Salem. The Reynolds structures were constructed primarily in the 1920s, with additions/improvements continuing through the 1960s. At that time, Reynolds began decentralizing its manufacturing facilities with its last downtown facility closing in 1990. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center saw the potential in these vacant structures and began using a building donated by Reynolds for research purposes in 1994. In the 2000s, 3 new buildings totaling 320,000 square feet were constructed. Since 2010, 7 additional former tobacco structures and land donated by Reynolds has been developed into 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use space. Preservation NC recently declared that the Innovation Quarter is home to the largest historic redevelopment project in the history of North Carolina. Today, the Innovation Quarter is one of the fastest-growing urban innovation districts in the country–a national center for research, education, and business in biomedical science, information technology, clinical services, and advanced materials. The Innovation Quarter is currently home to 150 companies, 5 academic institutions, 1,500 undergraduate/graduate students, and 3,600 employees. The district presently contains 1.9 million square feet of office, laboratory, and education space along with 1,230 multifamily units representing a $700 million capital investment.

See the other winning projects in North Carolina