A $45 Million Experiment in Turning Dorms into Incubators

We've talked about hybrid offices, but what about hybrid dorms? College can be a time of great opportunity and inter-disciplinary collaboration, but sometimes it is easy to lock yourself in your dorm to finish your work. The University of Utah is trying to change that with a $45 million experiment to turn your living area into so much more. 400 aspiring entrepreneurs were chosen to live and work in the same building. 

Students wanted to connect across disciplines—where could a designer find an engineer? And they wanted a place to actually build prototypes, with tools and space. It was a lightbulb moment: Why not combine a maker space with a living space? The idea for Lassonde Studios was born. To help solve the problem of what the space was going to be, the university turned to architect Mehrdad Yazdani of Cannon Design’s Yazdani Studio. 

The resulting facility, which opened to students in August 2016, is four floors of residential space atop a 20,000-square-foot maker space, engineered to foster community, collaboration, and flexibility. 

The hybrid space is engineered with maximum interaction in mind. It is nearly impossible to get a desk into the bedrooms, as this entices students to work in common areas. There are also washers placed on each floor to encourage people to gather and interact. And the cafe is open to residents 24 hours a day, as is the innovation hangar where students can use equipment such as 3D printers. 

The last thing to note is that to be a part of this building you have to be totally invested.

"Yes, it’s a really cool building and it’s centrally located on campus," says D’Ambrosio. "But if you’re going to live here, we want you to contribute to the community."

What do you think of this new dorm experiment? Comment below!