George M. Low, with the support of Walter Fallon of Eastman Kodak, John Opel of IBM, George Strichman of Colt Industries and John Welch of General Electric, made a proposal to Governor Hugh Carey to jointly sponsor a research and teaching center to promote industrial innovation. In July 1982, the State of New York selected Rensselaer as the site for a $60 million Center for Industrial Innovation (CII). President Low stated that the State had "taken a giant step in its efforts to attract, nurture and keep advanced technology business in the state, a step that is certain to make a substantial impact on New York 's economy." The nine-story, 200,000 sq. ft. building, was designed to house three centers: the Center for Manufacturing Productivity, the Center for Interactive Computer Graphics, and the Center for Integrated Electronics.
Mitchell-Giurgola Associates recommended a building design that wrapped around the Communications Center on the hill above the east end of the '86 Field. A thirty year interest-free loan from New York State Urban Development Corporation provided primary funding for construction of the CII and donations from over thirty companies helped equip the center. The facility would feature a Class 100 clean room, ninety laboratories, ten conference rooms and several classrooms. The cornerstone of the CII was presented at the first annual Industrial Innovation Symposium held on October 12, 1982. Governor Hugh Carey was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at a convocation held jointly with the event.
The Board of Trustees voted to name the facility the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation in June of 1984. Construction of the center began during the summer of 1984. Regrettably, George Low, the person who had set it all in motion, passed away that same summer. The Low Center was dedicated on May 14, 1987.
The Class of 1985 gift furnished the George M. Low Lounge on the fourth floor of the CII. This lounge was converted into the George M. Low Gallery dedicated on September 27, 2002. The Low Gallery, designed to resemble the inside of a space shuttle, contains a permanent exhibit of NASA and personal memorabilia that honor the life of George M. Low. The Gallery was made possible by a gift from the Low family.