Rice University broke ground in July of 2019 on The Ion in Houston. Fostering the creation of new digital technologies, the $110 million project includes the renovation of a former Sears building to create a 270,000-sf innovation hub for data sciences research initiatives. Designed by Gensler, SHoP Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, and James Corner Field Operations, the center will offer event spaces, meeting rooms, business incubation suites, dining venues, and entertainment amenities. The facility will accommodate public programs including entrepreneurial workshops, networking sessions, training courses, and industry lectures. Hines is overseeing the development of The Ion on behalf of Rice Management Company and completion is expected in late 2020. The project represents the first phase of a mixed-use innovation district sited on 16 contiguous acres.