Dr. Emmett Brown, the eccentric scientist from Back to the Future, was right when he said, “You can make your future whatever you want. So make it a good one.” And while we have not quite figured out the whole flux capacitor thing, we have been looking back into our history in order to grow our shared future. Many things have changed since the founding of RTP in 1959, but there has been one constant that we, much like Marty McFly, can trace throughout our history: the people of our community.
January 12, 2015
Why Free at The Frontier: An Essay from RTP
A Research Triangle Park exec on why the new building at the heart of RTP’s Park Center has so much free space.
For decades the Research Triangle Park has been successfully attracting and growing companies that bring jobs to places throughout North Carolina. And, while these economic activities are key to our Foundation’s mission, we are also called to serve the people of our communities by creating opportunities to learn and grow together. Service is in our DNA and what better way to launch our plans for Park Center than to offer free space, free coffee and free wifi at a location in the heart of the Triangle.
Since the announcement of our purchase of Park Center, we have heard a consistent message: RTP needs an identity. It needs to become a destination that people recognize and where people are welcomed as participants. We have been listening, and this month RTP is opening a new Triangle destination at the heart of the Park Center development. Called The Frontier, it is a 142,000-square-foot 1990-something office building that has been repurposed to host people, programs, big thinkers and even regular happy hours.
The idea for The Frontier came from the President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, Bob Geolas. Bob is a leader who has an unquenchable thirst to bring people together, get them to share ideas, build meaningful relationships and then go out into our communities to do good for others.
Think of The Frontier as the Triangle community club house, or a stage set, that is always ready for the next person, organization, university or company. The goal of the space is to encourage as many people as possible to come and meet others, build relationships, and maybe even create new teams with people different from themselves. It is also a place with no preconceived expectations or requirements. The first floor is free and open to for anyone to use as a meeting point. There are private conference rooms, a good cup of coffee, open wifi and some sweet IKEA furniture—all also for free.
The Frontier, however, isn’t just a meeting place or coffee joint. It’s also a convening place in the heart of the Triangle. The RTP will be moving nearly all of our programing to The Frontier. Beginning in January, RTP 180, the Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups, and DISRUPT will all be doing their part in activating the space in and around the building.
But, here’s the exciting part: The Frontier is just the beginning. Within the 100-acre Park Center plan we have created many diverse places to explore, escape, connect, entertain and reflect. We are working closely with outstanding design firms like Duda Paine and Gensler to include North Carolina-inspired architecture, an authentic sense of place for RTP, and flexible public civic spaces.
The physical development work is also moving forward. In the months to come, we will be finalizing the infrastructure design and construction documents that will support the first phase of development, which will include approximately 200,000-square-feet of retail, 250 multifamily residential spaces, office space, space for our universities to collaborate as well as a full service hotel.
So, as you can see, we’re just getting started. We need you to join us as pioneers. We need you to bring your ideas, your activities, your DeLorean and a desire to try something new. This is your invitation. The doors are open. The coffee is hot and 1G wireless awaits. The future has already begun!