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The University of Central Florida’s downtown campus is one step closer to construction as officials this week signed contracts with the team selected to design and build the campus.

In June, the university selected SchenkelShultz Architecture, Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Skanska USA based upon their experience, creativity and design ideas for an innovative, urban campus.

The contracts include design and construction of a new academic building for both UCF and Valencia College students, as well as the renovation of UCF’s existing Center for Emerging Media – home to the nation’s No. 1 graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.

To provide a smooth transition of academic programs to the new campus, without adversely impacting students by relocating them in the middle of an academic year, UCF has worked with the design and construction team to establish the campus’ official opening date as Fall 2019.

“UCF Downtown is one of the largest projects in our history, and we want to ensure that our plans reflect the scope and impact it will have on Orlando,” said Thad Seymour, Jr., vice provost for UCF Downtown. “With complex and transformative projects like this, we need to make sure we get it right.”

The design team includes SchenkelShultz, which has designed more than 5 million square feet of facilities for UCF and other universities and colleges, and Robert A.M. Stern Architects, or RAMSA, which has an extensive portfolio of modern higher-education projects that meld seamlessly into dense urban downtown areas. That includes projects at Drexel University in Philadelphia and the University of Connecticut in Hartford.

When it opens, UCF Downtown will bring about 7,700 students from UCF and Valencia to study and work just west of Interstate 4, as the academic heart of Creative Village, the city’s $1 billion private-public partnership.

The campus will focus on programs such as communication, digital media, public service and health-related technology, where students will study within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in these same fields. Additionally, Valencia will offer programs in digital media, health information technology and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the immediate downtown area.

On Aug. 17, a university Board of Trustees committee approved a memorandum of understanding with Ustler Development and KUD International, which will construct student housing on private property adjacent to the new academic building. The housing will only be for UCF and Valencia students and will be managed by UCF.

In the coming weeks, UCF expects to announce the remainder of the $20 million in community support it pledged to raise to help build the campus. The university also is contributing $20 million from its resources and received $20 million from the state.

Additionally, the value of in-kind contributions of land and infrastructure by the City of Orlando and Creative Village developers total approximately $75 million.