LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 17, 2020) — A new space for learning, innovation and collaboration is now open to the Lexington and University of Kentucky community.
Designed as a hub of activity around innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, The Cornerstone supports the university’s nationally recognized Smart Campus digital strategy that focuses on increasing persistence and graduation rates, while preparing students for lives of meaning and purpose.
Achieved through a public-private-partnership (P3) with the Signet Real Estate Group, the mixed-use parking, education and retail facility additionally makes critical progress on the university’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
The Cornerstone can be broken into four spaces:
Retail/dining space: The Cornerstone Exchange food hall is committed to featuring homegrown, Kentucky-based companies. A Cup of Common Wealth and Rolling Oven Pizza were announced in March. Signet and the university has now announced that Ethereal Brewing and Miyako Poke Bowl have joined the lineup.
"We are very excited to be the first microbrewery on the University of Kentucky's campus," said Andrew Bishop, co-founder of Ethereal Brewing. "Coming from UK ourselves, Brandon (Floan, co-owner) and I look forward to working hard to create a unique and inclusive atmosphere to cater to those both over and under 21."
A Cup of Common Wealth is set to open this week, with the remaining scheduled to open early next year.
“Cornerstone Exchange started with the idea that the Lexington community deserved a collaborative space for exchanging innovative ideas and creating connections over local food and drinks,” said Spencer Hyatt, vice president of Signet Real Estate Group. “We felt the best way for the community to have a window into all the exciting initiatives that UK provides was through a community-centered food hall. The Exchange is the perfect melting pot to bring together successful local Lexington-based restaurants, including coffee, desserts and brewery, while simultaneously showcasing UK Cornerstone’s innovation space, esports lounge and theater.”
Parking: By adding more than 900 new parking spaces, the combined number of spaces increases to over 2,300 between the existing garage and the new structure, now known as Cornerstone Garage. This is a significant step in the right direction in achieving the university’s TMP and adding much-needed parking capacity to campus.
Flexible innovation space: A highly flexible open-format area infused with cutting-edge technology will be a space to maximize student success, enhance a sense of community, bring together the university and community to foster outcome- and solution-driven thinking and design and provide new pathways for career development in the entrepreneurial fields. Equipped with new state-of-the-art technology, the innovation space is a great place for students, staff, faculty and community members to take classes, listen to a community speaking event, or even brainstorm a new app. Rooms and technology in the space can be reserved through UK's Event Management System.
The UK Federal Credit Union Esports Lounge and Theater: The space’s esports theater includes 100 retractable theater-style seats and an esports gamers lounge that offers more than 50 PC-based gaming units and multiple console-play areas. While this space will predominately be used for gaming, the flexible use of the facility will allow the community to engage in a variety of activities.
“As the official sponsor of the Esports Lounge at the University of Kentucky, we are very excited about the opening of The Cornerstone on UK’s campus,” said David Kennedy, University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union’s (UKFCU) president and CEO. “There is so much opportunity within this space for collaboration and technology development, and we look forward to watching it grow over the coming months. Our credit union's investment in UK's new esports program represents our commitment to innovate and cultivate new technologies and ideas for a large group of students. While typical sports teams are limited to a smaller population of the student body, we view esports as an opportunity for all students to participate. UKFCU is proud to have served the UK community for 83 years, and we are excited to grow our relationship for the next generation."
While things on campus look different than in past years due to the global pandemic, The Cornerstone is providing innovative new ways to engage the campus and the community in learning and connection.
Underscoring the importance of this facility as a doorway to campus, and the university’s relationship with local businesses, UK, in partnership with UKFCU and Signet Real Estate Group, is defining a new model for higher education — a model that melds cutting-edge research and education with entrepreneurship and real-world application.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.