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CMU advanced manufacturing to anchor Mill 19 building at Hazelwood Green

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, 3:57 p.m.
The Mill 19 building is stripped of most of its skin.
Tim Kaulen | Carnegie Mellon University
The Mill 19 building is stripped of most of its skin.
Uber's test track at the Almono development site in Hazelwood is seen from 2,300 feet, Thursday, October, 19, 2017.
Courtesy of CoStar
Uber's test track at the Almono development site in Hazelwood is seen from 2,300 feet, Thursday, October, 19, 2017.
Uber's test track at the Almono development site in Hazelwood is seen from 2,300 feet, Thursday, October, 19, 2017.
Courtesy of CoStar
Uber's test track at the Almono development site in Hazelwood is seen from 2,300 feet, Thursday, October, 19, 2017.
A rendering shows the planned advanced manufacturing hub in Mill 19.
MSR Design/Ten X Ten/R3A
A rendering shows the planned advanced manufacturing hub in Mill 19.

Two advanced manufacturing centers started by Carnegie Mellon University will fill most of a new building slated for construction inside a massive abandoned steel mill in Hazelwood.

CMU announced Wednesday an agreement with the nonprofit Regional Industrial Development Corporation, owners of the iconic Mill 19 building in the Hazelwood Green development, to house the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and the Manufacturing Futures Initiative.

The university will lease two floors, about two-thirds of the 94,000-square-foot building that will be built inside the steel superstructure of the mill. The construction project has been called a building within a building.

“It's tremendous,” Don Smith, president of RIDC, said of landing the ARM Institute and Manufacturing Futures Initiative. “It's pretty much the best anchor tenants you could have.”

Smith said CMU signed a 10-year lease with renewal options. The long-term lease opens more avenues for RIDC to finance the project. The centers, both expected to be major players in the development of advanced manufacturing, should help attract other tenants to the site. Neither Smith nor CMU disclosed how much the university was paying for the lease.

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, part of former President Obama's Manufacturing USA initiative, was announced this year and based at CMU. The nonprofit received $80 million from the Department of Defense and $173 million from companies, universities, government agencies and nonprofits. The institute will work to bring artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and other technologies to American manufacturing.

CMU's Manufacturing Futures Initiative was formed in 2016 to facilitate development in materials, design, robotics, automation, machine learning and workforce training and education. The Richard King Mellon Foundation helped launch the initiative with a $20 million gift.

“Advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, materials science and 3-D printing are rapidly transforming manufacturing, with the power to trigger a significant resurgence of this economic pillar in the United States, and in Pittsburgh in particular,” Farnam Jahanian, CMU's interim president, said in a statement. “CMU's global leadership in research and in catalyzing economic development brings us to the cusp of a historic shift in manufacturing.”

James Rohr, chair of CMU's Board of Trustees, said Hazelwood Green will become “a center of hope for new jobs, economic growth, community involvement and environmental sustainability in the region.”

CMU has a long history of work at the site. The university's DARPA Grand Challenge teams built and tested their autonomous vehicles at the site in the early 2000s.

The Hazelwood Green development sits on the 178-acre former home of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Hazelwood Works. The development was formerly known as Almono.

Smith said work has begun, including taking the skin off Mill 19 to expose the skeleton. The two centers hope to move in by spring 2019.

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