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The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a lease that will roughly double the amount of space now occupied by the Discovery Partners Institute’s headquarters to accommodate the growing demand for programming space.

Trustees, who met virtually, approved the lease of an additional 22,560 square feet of office space at 200 South Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago.

DPI is led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities and was created to entice people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies. It is currently headquartered in 22,000 square feet of space at the South Wacker location.

The new space will accommodate DPI, which now includes 20 full-time staff, and growing demand for its educational and workforce-development programs, said Bill Jackson, DPI’s executive director.

“DPI’s tech talent and research and development growth has created the demand for more space,” Jackson said. “This incremental expansion will further our significant economic and workforce development goals for the region as we build toward our permanent home on The 78.”

DPI’s current location contains three large classrooms, an event space, several small conference rooms and offices for its staff. But the office is at capacity.

By 2029, DPI anticipates training and educating more than 7,000 students a year and generating more than $200 million in new R&D each year.

The new five-year lease will begin on Feb. 21, 2021, with first-year rent of $617,204. Later years would include incremental increases.

In addition to its own staff and programming, DPI is inviting a number of groups from around the U of I System to establish a presence at DPI, and some private companies have expressed interest in leasing space from DPI. A DPI Venture Unit that would lease space to startups is also being created.

Ultimately, DPI plans to move its headquarters to a 500,000-square-foot facility in the South Loop that would anchor The 78 development. The selection of an architect to design DPI’s permanent headquarters is expected later in 2020.

In late August, DPI announced more than $1 million in seed grants to eight research teams focused on projects that will, for example, check and trace Chicago’s waterways for the virus responsible for COVID-19; train software engineers to build safer and more ethical algorithms; and improve farmer profitability and sustainability by accelerating the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies for agriculture.

Springfield Student Success Center
Trustees agreed to hire Bailey Edward Design of Champaign to design the new Library Learning Student Success Center at Springfield. The 63,500-square-foot facility will meet LEED Platinum standards for environmental sustainability and combine student support, academic advising and testing services now housed in several different buildings across campus.

The $35 million project is being financed through state capital funds. The Capital Development Board has released $3.5 million for planning and design.

Urbana-Champaign Basketball Training Center
Trustees approved the design for the expansion of the Richard T. Ubben Basketball Complex at Urbana-Champaign. The $35 million project will roughly double the size of the practice facility for the university’s men’s and women’s basketball teams to about 80,000 square feet. The expansion will include a new south addition with space for coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and a recruiting lounge; a north addition to provide areas for sports medicine, strength training and locker rooms; and a new entrance from St. Mary’s Road with expanded parking.

The project is financed through gift funds and institutional operating funds.

Shield T3 Board Additions
Trustees approved the addition of two at-large seats for the Board of Managers of Shield T3, an organization recently created to expand the reach of saliva-based COVID-19 testing pioneered by Urbana-Champaign researchers. The new board positions bring the number of voting Board of Managers members to 11.

Trustees also filled the two new positions and one existing, vacant position, voting to appoint Trustee Ricardo Estrada, along with Steven L. Miller and Dea Meyer. Estrada is CEO of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Family Services, one of the state’s largest human services agencies, and holds an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Miller is an alumnus of Urbana-Champaign and a former CEO of Shell Oil Company. Meyer is executive vice president of the Civic Committee and the Commercial Club of Chicago and a former banking executive.

Other members were appointed in August, just after Shield T3’s creation as a limited liability company.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 90,000 students, about 25,000 full-time equivalent faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.