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Research Triangle Park

Coordinates: 35°54′29″N 78°51′46″W / 35.90806°N 78.86278°W / 35.90806; -78.86278
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35°54′29″N 78°51′46″W / 35.90806°N 78.86278°W / 35.90806; -78.86278

Research Triangle Park
RTP headquarters at 12 Davis Drive
MottoInspiring bold ideas
Established1959 (1959)
Research Triangle, North Carolina

Research Triangle Park (RTP) is the largest research park in the United States,[1][2][3] occupying 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) in North Carolina and hosting more than 300 companies and 65,000 workers. It is owned and managed by the Research Triangle Foundation,[4] a private non-profit organization.

North Carolina's Research Triangle region is named for the facility, which sits within the geographic triangle formed by three nearby research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[5]

The park is bounded by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and the communities of Morrisville and Cary. Most of its territory lies within Durham County, with about one-quarter in Wake County.[6]


Research Triangle Park is one of the most prominent high-tech research and development parks in the United States. It was created in 1959[7] by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local business interests. Karl Robbins bought the land where the park is now built. The park covers 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) and is situated in a pine forest with 22,500,000 square feet (2,090,318 m2) of built space.[1] The park is traversed by Interstate 40, the Durham Freeway, and NC 540.

The park is home to more than 300 companies that employ 55,000 workers and an additional 10,000 contractors.[8][9]

IBM has long been among the largest corporate tenants at RTP, with a four-building complex totaling 774,000 square feet.[10] The park hosts one of GlaxoSmithKline's largest R&D centers with about 5,000 employees.[11] Cisco Systems' campus in the park, with about 5,000 employees, is its second-largest location, after its Silicon Valley corporate headquarters.[12] The National Institutes of Health has its National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the park and the city of Durham.

In August 2017, Scott Levitan was named the foundation's new president and CEO, making him the 9th leader since the foundation was established.[13]


IBM's Research Triangle Park facility, pictured in around 1982

After World War II, North Carolina's economy was hurt as its agriculture, textile, and furniture industries lost market share. Academics at UNC, NCSU and Duke proposed a park to allow the universities to do research together, harness the area's strengths, and keep graduates in the state.

The "Research Triangle" name is first known to have been used by Romeo Guest in 1953.[14] Guest began advocating the project after unsuccessfully attempting to bring pharmaceutical giant Merck to Aberdeen, North Carolina in the early 1940s. The project was officially greenlit by Governor Luther Hodges in 1956, but the three universities were initially wary of the project.[15]

Although RTP was initially envisioned as a for-profit business, its strategy shifted at the direction of Archibald "Archie" Davis, a former Wachovia Bank chairman, state senator, and president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, who shifted to a non-profit model to purchase the RTP site, and successfully raised $1.425 million in donations from North Carolinians.[14]

The surge in RTP's growth began in 1965, when IBM and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare announced new facilities in the park.[16] The latter move was attributed to the efforts of Governor Terry Sanford, an ally of President John F. Kennedy.[15] From then until the late 2000s, the park averaged six new companies and 1,800 new employees per year.[16]

IBM remained the largest employer at RTP for decades, with 11,000 workers at the site as of 2013.[15] The RTP facility handled products including the IBM 1050 terminal, Selectric typewriters, PC and accounting operations, and BladeCenter servers.[17]

In 1976, the three major area universities formed a consortium, the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies (TUCASI), to develop joint research facilities and think tanks at RTP. This led to the foundation of the National Humanities Center, Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and the National Institute for Statistical Sciences.[16]

In their article "The Growth of Research Triangle Park", Link and Scott posit that entrepreneurial culture and leadership contributed the most to its success as a cluster.[18] Archie Davis promoted a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by locating the park near universities, actively recruiting organizations (like the American Academy of Arts and Sciences), and used his vision to raise funding for the park.[14]

Davis strongly believed that profits could not be the only driver for creating the park and that the betterment of the community should be the key goal. "The love of this state … was the motivation for the Research Triangle idea," he said. "Research Triangle is a manifestation of what North Carolina is all about." Research Triangle Park remains a nonprofit.[14]

Lake Betz at Research Triangle Park

Local government[edit]

The park is an unincorporated area, and state law prohibits municipalities from annexing areas within the park.[19] Some local government functions are served by the Durham-Wake Counties Research and Production Service District, a special tax district created in 1986[20][21] that is conterminous with the park, wherein the property tax rate is limited to 10 cents per $100 valuation.[22] The park has special zoning as a Research Applications District in the Wake County portion, and a Scientific Research Park in the Durham County portion. As of October 2012, both zoning areas are in the process of being revised to allow higher density development.[23] The zoning changes are coupled with legislative changes allowing for Urban Research Service Districts (URSD) within the Park, which can include a mix of retail and residential usages.[24] The URSDs have the power to levy taxes at the same rate as a neighboring city.[22]

The Research Triangle Foundation operates several subsidiaries within the park. These include: the Frontier RTP startup campus, Boxyard RTP, and Hub RTP. Frontier RTP first opened as a free coworking space in a single building in January 2015. Since its inception, the Foundation has expanded the Frontier RTP concept to three additional buildings, creating an affordable campus for growing tech, life science and nonprofit organizations; as of 2021, 100 of the Park's 300 companies are housed in the Frontier campus.


On October 1, 2015, former President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, Bob Geolas, announced RTP's plans for a $50,000,000 redevelopment involving the formation of "Park Center." $20,000,000 will be allocated from Durham County, $10,000,000 from the Durham-Wake Counties Research and Production Service District, and $20,000,000 as a result of land purchases and site work provided by the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina.[25] The redevelopment plans also include exploring partnerships with regional transit groups. The hope of the Research Triangle Foundation is to broaden public transportation to and from the area.

Hub RTP[edit]

In 2019, the Research Triangle Foundation announced a re-brand of the site to "Hub RTP." The 100-acre site broke ground in September 2020[26] and will include 125,000 SF of office over retail, 1200 residential apartments, 16 acres of green space, at least one hotel, and 1M SF of the first high rise office towers in RTP.

Boxyard RTP[edit]

In March 2019, RTF announced plans to construct Boxyard RTP,[27] an 15,000-square-foot shipping container complex of retail, dining, and other amenities.[28] The $9M project, which is set on 12 acres of the Frontier RTP campus, delayed its launch for a year because of the impacts of the pandemic and soft-launched in June 2021 with a few of the planned tenants opening for business in the days following.[28] The complex held its grand opening on November 18, 2021, with several anchor tenants open for business. Initial tenants include restaurants, a brewery, a cocktail bar, a coffee shop, a beauty shop, a CBD vendor, and an escape room.[29] The complex also features a dog park named the Barkyard RTP,[29] pop-up yoga classes, live music, and both standalone and roof-mounted heaters in the outdoor pavilion.[30] Boxyard RTP is inspired by a similar development called The Boxyard Tulsa, located in downtown Tulsa's East Village district.[28][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Research Triangle Park". Rtp.org. Archived from the original on 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  2. ^ "Minneapolis to host annual conference of university research parks". MedCity News. 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  3. ^ "Research Parks and Job Creation: Innovation Through Cooperation". .nationalacademies.org. 2009-12-09. Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  4. ^ Chodavadia, Parth (2012-11-28). "Research Triangle Park develops strategy for future growth". Duke Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2016-02-05. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  5. ^ Ivey, Helene (May 26, 1958). "Research Head Is Visitor". The Chapel Hill Weekly. p. 1. Retrieved November 25, 2021 – via Chronicling America. ... the Research Triangle [is] an area bounded by the University here [in Chapel Hill], State College in Raleigh and Duke University in Durham.
  6. ^ "Research Triangle Park" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  7. ^ Carolyn Sakowski; Sue Clark; Angela Harwood; Steve Kirk; Artie Sparrow; Anne Holcomb Waters (2010), Travel North Carolina: Going Native in the Old North State (4 ed.), John F. Blair, ISBN 978-0-89587-379-8, archived from the original on 2020-06-26, retrieved 2011-12-14
  8. ^ Bracken, David (2010-09-04). "RTP begins updating its master plan". NewsObserver.com. Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  9. ^ "RTP: Research Triangle Primer". Forbes. 2012-04-18. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  10. ^ Gordon, Brian (2023-12-20). "IBM sells massive campus near Research Triangle Park. New owner sees mixed-use potential". The News & Observer.
  11. ^ WRAL Tech Wire (2011-02-16). "GSK cutting positions in RTP, nationwide -TechWire Insider :: Editor's Blog at WRAL Tech Wire". Wraltechwire.com. Archived from the original on 2013-07-28. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  12. ^ "Cisco to slash 6,500 workers; RTP impact unknown". WRAL.com. 2011-07-18. Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  13. ^ "Meet Scott Levitan: The new CEO of Research Triangle - Triangle Business Journal".
  14. ^ a b c d "The Man and Plan Behind Research Triangle Park – Our State Magazine". Our State Magazine. 2014-08-25. Archived from the original on 2017-12-06. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  15. ^ a b c Wessner, Charles W.; Initiatives, National Research Council (US) Committee on Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State and Regional Innovation (2013), "North Carolina's Research Triangle Park", Best Practices in State and Regional Innovation Initiatives: Competing in the 21st Century, National Academies Press (US), retrieved 2024-06-14{{citation}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ a b c Pinho, Rute (2009-09-16). "North Carolina's Research Triangle Park and the History of the Connecticut Technology Park". OLR Research Report.
  17. ^ "IBM Celebrates 50 Years in The RTP". Research Triangle Park. 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2024-06-14.
  18. ^ Link, Albert N.; Scott, John T. (2003). "The Growth of Research Triangle Park". Small Business Economics. 20 (2): 167–175. doi:10.1023/a:1022216116063. JSTOR 40229257. S2CID 37411771.
  19. ^ "Could RDU do more for Durham?", (Raleigh) News & Observer, 13-Sept-2009, p.13A
  20. ^ "Self-Driving Tour of Research Triangle Park" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-01.
  21. ^ "The Research Triangle Park Jogging & Pedestrian Trails" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  22. ^ a b Liles, Corey (2012-07-31). "Master Plan Update: Legislative Changes Approved". The RTP Blog. Archived from the original on 2012-08-19. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  23. ^ Liles, Corey (2012-10-03). "Master Plan Update: Zoning Gives Room to Grow". The RTP Blog. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  24. ^ Bracken, David (2012-07-16). "New RTP master plan to be unveiled this fall | Local/State". NewsObserver.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  25. ^ "RTP Reveals Park Center Plan - The Research Triangle Park". The Research Triangle Park. October 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  26. ^ "Research Triangle Foundation Breaks Ground on Two Million Square Feet". Research Triangle Park. 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  27. ^ "Press Release: Boxyard RTP Coming to Research Triangle Park". The Research Triangle Park. 2019-03-07. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  28. ^ a b c "Launch of the new Boxyard RTP offers exciting glimpse of post-COVID world". WRAL TechWire. 2021-06-04. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  29. ^ a b "Boxyard RTP grand opening begins with events all weekend". WRAL TechWire. 2021-06-04. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  30. ^ "Heaters Gonna Heat". Discover Durham. 2021-12-02. Retrieved 2021-12-09.
  31. ^ Howsam, Melissa (June 30, 2021). "RTP Rebirth: Boxyard RTP bows as a sign of RTP's upcoming (overdue) boom". Raleigh Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2021.


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