Digital rendering of Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah.

University of Utah Breaks Ground on Lassonde Studios Building

One-of-a-kind facility for student entrepreneurs and innovators will merge 400 residences with a 20,000-square-foot ‘garage’ open to all students

The University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is one step closer to becoming an international destination for student entrepreneurs, innovators and “makers” today as it breaks ground on the Lassonde Studios. The five-floor, 148,000-square-foot building will merge more than 400 student residences with a 20,000-square-foot “garage” open for any student to attend events, build prototypes, launch companies and more.

“This is a new type of building focused on experiential learning,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. “The Lassonde Studios is the culmination of more than a decade of growth and achievement. We are already a nationally-ranked university for entrepreneurship. This remarkable building will make a great program even better and allow us reach many more students.”

The Lassonde Studios will open to students in fall 2016.

In conjunction with the groundbreaking, the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute released new details about the building, including living options (modular pod, loft and traditional), elaborate architectural renderings and amenities in the “garage.”

The Lassonde Studios is designed to be as innovative as the students and activities that will be inside. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is working with an internationally-recognized architectural and design team to create a space that will define a new type of university environment and inspire entrepreneurs for decades to come. Partner companies include EDA Architects (Salt Lake City), Cannon Design (global) and ARUP (global). Gramoll Construction (Salt Lake City) is the general contractor.

“Everything about this building has been unique and different, even our design process,” said Mehrdad Yazdani, of Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design and the lead designer for the Lassonde Studios. “We started by challenging our assumptions about student housing and exploring the boundaries between where students live and work. The result is an entirely new campus building typology.”

The heart of the Lassonde Studios will be the “garage” on the first floor. It will be a mostly open space with moveable furniture to accommodate a wide range of activities. It will feature co-working space, private offices for startups companies, cafe, lounge space, and a prototyping area with 3D printers, sewing machines, hand tools, laser cutter and more. Any student at the University of Utah will be welcome to use the “garage.” It will function like a student union for entrepreneurs and innovators.

“We want to accelerate the time it takes for students to see their ideas become a reality, and we want to give them a place where they can meet and form interdisciplinary teams,” said Taylor Randall, Dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “The University of Utah already has a vibrant community for entrepreneurship. The Lassonde Studios will galvanize that community, and it will give every student the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

The four floors above the “garage” will provide three types of housing as well as additional co-working, study and “maker” space. The living options include:

  • Moveable “living pods” – Designers invented this type of housing exclusively for the Lassonde Studios. The pods will be 7-by-7 foot, private living areas with beds, shelving and storage. The pods will be moveable within a larger, multi-use suite. Each suite will contain bathrooms, a kitchen and community “maker” space.
  • Loft rooms – Groups of students will be able to live together in a large, open space where they share creative space and a kitchen. These rooms will provide students with an urban lifestyle in the middle of campus.
  • Single and Double rooms – Students can choose standard rooms for individuals or to share with one other person. Groups of these single and double rooms will share creative space and kitchens.

The Lassonde Studios is made possible through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, a successful entrepreneur and MBA alumnus of the David Eccles School of Business. In addition to founding what is now the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute with a $13 million donation, he gave $12 million more to build the Lassonde Studios and support the activities inside. The remainder of the building costs will be paid for by other donations and rents from those living there. No taxpayer money is being used.

“Pierre Lassonde has a vision to make the University of Utah the best place in the country to study entrepreneurship,” D’Ambrosio said, “and the Lassonde Studios is helping make that dream come true.”

More information about the Lassonde Studios is available at www.lassonde.utah.edu/studios. Images and other resources for reporters are available at http://lassonde.utah.edu/studios/media-resources/.

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