Facility Focus (Learning Studio and Classroom Design)

Parsons School of Design: The New School's Making Center

Parsons School of Design 

BOTTOM LEFT AND BOTTOM MIDDLE PHOTOS © MARTIN SECK, PHOTOS © MICHAEL MORAN

The Making Center at Parsons School of Design — a 28,000-square-foot facility located in the heart of The New School’s Greenwich Village campus — is a space where students can explore innovative manufacturing methods, collaborate with their peers across a range of disciplines and employ state-of-the-art tools to address pressing social needs related to sustainability, human well-being and reviving urban making.

Open to all university students and faculty members regardless of their field of study, the Making Center is a place where everyone — from designers, technologists and activists, to managers, policy analysts and entrepreneurs — can work together in flexible, ad hoc teams to design innovative projects, methods and supply chains.

“This new space allows education and practice to shift from 20th-century siloed industrial model, which separates disciplines and thus limits interaction and collaboration, to a cross-platform model, which allows different designers to work together and learn from one another to design the future,” says Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons School of Design.

The Making Center is a striking example of how art and design schools are using the built environment to shape the way students learn and interact. Designed by New York City-based Rice+Lipka Architects (R+L), the space features an open floor plan, including modular walls and tables that encourage students and faculty members to work with and learn from each other. More than half of the 14,000-square-foot main level is “dedicated to not being dedicated,” according to Lyn Rice of Rice+Lipka Architects.

“R+L conceived of the Center as a desiloed making place where design students from Parsons’ broad range of creative disciplines can work side-by-side,” Rice adds.

Underscoring Parsons’ commitment to making as a way of problem solving, students use the Parsons Making Center to design products and strategies that address pressing social needs.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.

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