Imagined as a space to combine new media with the evolving maker culture, the Design Thinking Lab was designed to foster radical collaboration among students, faculty and staff from diverse disciplines.

Centerbrook explored the feasibility of renovating a portion of a 1923 gymnasium to house a design thinking lab at Smith College, a private liberal arts college for women. The concept is to provide highly flexible space to promote a culture of creative, hands-on engagement, where ideas and technology come together across multiple disciplines.

Smith is reimagining the liberal arts in which the humanities, social sciences and STEM disciplines work in synergy to prepare students to creatively solve challenging problems. At its foundation is the booming ‘maker culture’ which is removing barriers to transforming ideas into tangible creations, and the traditional notion of expertise tied to specialized fields.

Centerbrook developed three schemes for renovating the space; a high-bay former boiler room and coal vault used to heat the gym. The schemes provide group work and collaboration space, computer workstations, photography, food service, lockers, supply space, and “away” space for quiet study adjacent to the collaborative spaces. The schemes, through a glassy new entrance, provide accessibility to the gym, infuse the space with natural light, and announce to passersby the excitement within.

Renderings © Centerbrook