New Design Center to provide creative space for all students


Office of the Provost

Preliminary conceptualization of the Design Center.

By Lilly Mashayek

A new Design Center will offer technology and resources for all students across campus.

The 59,300-square-foot Design Center will be located between Fourth and Sixth streets, next to the Krannert Art Museum. Fouad Abd El Khalick, associate dean for research and member of the Design Center Program Working Group, said the Design Center will house studios, 3-D printing facilities, an auditorium and spaces for students to sit down and work together.

Abd El Khalick said the project will cost $60 million – half of which will come from donors. The remainder of the budget comes from a combination of other donors, the state and the campus, said Andrew Singer, chair of the Design Center Program Working Group.

The center will include “spaces where students can experience virtual and immersive learning,” said Abd El Khalick.

Because the Design Center will not be owned by any one college, all students will be able to use the facilities.

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“It is more of a neutral location where they can explore together,” said Laura Frerichs, the University’s director of Research Park. “Wherever a student comes from, that student will feel welcome.”

The Design Center’s goal is to create opportunities for students to pursue entrepreneurial projects, said Frerichs.

“There was an interest in a design center sparking entrepreneurship,” Frerichs said. “It is a campus-wide initiative.”

The center will also eliminate some initial problems faced by start-ups and entrepreneurs.

“One of the needs we see on entrepreneurial teams, we generally don’t provide a location until they’ve already decided they wanted to become a company,” Frerichs said. “There’s nothing for the in-between stage, between the invention and product formation.”

The initial idea for the Design Center was drafted back in 2009. There are several committees working on the project, including faculty from the University and outside contributors, such as the University’s Research Park.

Some of these committees include the Design Center Executive Committee, the Design Center Program Working Group and the Design Center Facility Working Group among several others.SO

The center will offer resources for students, including access to faculty members and special equipment, Abd El Khalick said.

The project is expected to be finished in 2018, said Singer.

The Design Center committees are currently looking for input from the University community about some of the aspects of the center.

One of four town hall meetings about the plan for the Design Center will be held on Wednesday.

“We’re looking for input on all facets of Design Center,” Abd El Khalick said. “[We’re] really looking at input on the building itself, about programs, about activities.”

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