Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
New building readied to 'mine' promising University of Arizona tech in Tucson
alert top story

New building readied to 'mine' promising University of Arizona tech in Tucson

Patrick Murphy, executive director of planning, facilities and construction for Tech Parks Arizona, and Fred Knapp, vice president of Core Construction-Tucson, walk an empty floor at The Refinery. The Refinery will include new offices for the University of Arizona Applied Research Corp. and the University’s cyber operations program.

The Refinery, the University of Arizona’s first building at The Bridges development on Tucson’s south side, gets its name from its mission to “mine” technologies developed by the sharp minds on the UA campus just up the road.

The building, off South Kino Parkway, will soon get a chance to live up to its name, as it enters its final phase of construction ahead of a planned opening next spring.

Get a sneak peek at The Refinery, the UA's new tech home at The Bridges development on Tucson's south side.

The four-story, 120,000- square-foot building will be anchored by a half-dozen UA programs that will initially take up half of The Refinery’s space, including Tech Launch Arizona, the UA’s tech-commercialization arm, the UA Center for Innovation incubator and a UA-linked nonprofit devoted to national security needs.

Last week, workers were busy completing interior construction and preparing for finishing work including paint and carpeting at The Refinery, the first structure to be built for the UA Tech Park at The Bridges after a more than a decade of other development.

The $30 million building is being built and will be owned by the Boyer Co., which will lease the space to the UA and other tenants.

Much-needed space

Carol Stewart, UA associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona, said the new space is much-needed as the UA has rapidly built up its technology entrepreneurship programs in recent years

With a record-high 57 member tech startups, the UACI has reached full capacity at the UA Science and Technology Park on South Rita Road and a small bioscience-focused UACI outpost in Oro Valley is full, Stewart said, adding that about 60 additional startups are being readied for UACI membership.

“We really need that space for expansion — we’re at a bit of a breaking point right now,” she said.

Tech Launch Arizona and the UACI will occupy most of the first floor, in a contiguous space that will also host the UA Office of Research, Innovation and Impact, which oversees the UA research enterprise including the tech parks.

The UACI space will host eight to 12 tech startups on one side of the building and TLA’s burgeoning operations will occupy the other half of the floor, Stewart said.

Final touches are being done on The Refinery, a four-story, multiuse building at 36th Street and South Kino Parkway.

The new digs will be a big step up for Tech Launch Arizona, which is currently housed off-campus, in the 1960s-era former Tucson Electric Power Co. headquarters building on West Sixth Street.

And while the first-floor spaces will feature private offices and conference rooms, common open spaces are designed to foster collegiality and collaboration between the UA agencies.

“It’s going to be a very flexible innovation space,” said Stewart, a university tech veteran who headed Canada’s biggest technology incubator before joining the UA a few years ago.

Phased move-in

The Refinery will be occupied in stages, beginning in late February or March with the UA Applied Research Corp., a nonprofit corporation set up to provide products and services to meet national security and defense needs.

UA Applied Research Corp will occupy half of the fourth floor of The Refinery, with restricted access and security measures in place.

Tech Launch Arizona and the UACI are expected to move in later in March or early April, followed by the UA Office of Research, Innovation and Impact, which will be situated between Tech Launch Arizona and UACI on the first floor.

In a more recent development, UA’s Online program will consolidate its now-disparate offices into a single space occupying half of the third floor of The Refinery.

The entire second floor and halves of the third and fourth floors are still available for lease.

The four-story, 120,000-square-foot building will be anchored by a half-dozen UA programs.

The Refinery offers more convenient collaboration with the main UA campus about three miles to the north than the Rita Road campus, some 13 miles away, Stewart said, noting that daily transportation to and from The Refinery was built into the development plan.

New prospects

Meanwhile, Tech Parks Arizona has seen significant interest from potential out-of-state tenants, Stewart said.

One recent example is Eurofins Donor Testing Services, part of a major global medical lab company, which recently announced it will open a new lab at the UA Tech Park on South Rita Road next year to provide services to the organ-transplant community.

The UACI has widened its reach to across Southern Arizona with “outpost” incubator programs in Oro Valley and Sahuarita and also has also attracted some out-of-state tech startups.

“We are part of the economic attraction team for Tucson, and right now for Rita Road, a lot of the prospects of significance we talk to are from outside the region, outside the state,” Stewart said.

At The Bridges, the UA is in talks with two out-of-state companies interested in moving into future new buildings and aligned with the UA’s mission, Stewart said.

“These are companies that want to interact with the university, want a long-term relationship, want to help with education, grant opportunities, experiential learning and those are the guidelines for tenancy,” she said, noting that UA students will benefit from expanded internship opportunities.

Within a few years, the UA Tech Park at The Bridges is expected to host one of the UA’s most visible enterprises — the UA’s public broadcasting affiliate, Arizona Public Media.

Now housed in the Modern Languages building on the main UA campus, AZPM plans to build a $45 million office and production facility at The Bridges. The project has received initial approval from the Arizona Board of Regents.

The AZPM project is in the design phase and is expected to take three years to design and build.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at or 520-573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook:

Subscribe to stay connected to Tucson. A subscription helps you access more of the local stories that keep you connected to the community.

The business news you need

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News