Seeking student entrepreneurs at the University of Utah

July 20, 2017
Lassonde Studios provides student housing as well as "garage" space where students can build a prototype or launch a company.

Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City is a $45 million facility that provides living space for 400 students. But it is more than just a residence hall.

University officials call the building, which opened in August 2016, a residential entrepreneurship institute. One of its signature elements is the Neeleman Hangar, a 20,000-square-foot “student garage” on the first floor that offers students space for making, planning and hacking.

The living-learning environment supports the residents—dubbed the Lassonde 400—by making innovation a 24-7 endeavor. The interactive, interdisciplinary, immersive settings engage a range of users, accommodate a diversity of activities, and foster interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary mash-ups.

“Lassonde Studios is the most unique housing experience for our students,” says Barbara Remsburg, director of student services at the University of Utah. “No residence hall has received more acclaim than this building has.”

Unlike other mixed-use housing facilities, the building is designed to foster both digital and analog tinkering. It goes beyond the now-typical high-bay warehouse spaces with movable partitions to create a framework in which students interact and explore the physical and social relationships between design, human activity and environment at varying scales.

Access to the latest technology provides a culture similar to startup ventures. Housing units can be reconfigured as student needs evolve. Less than a year since its opening, Lassonde Studios has fostered 114 student and new venture development center faculty startups.

The architect for Lassonde Studios is EDA Architects in association with CannonDesign.