With the possibilities enabled by a mixture of technology and creativity came the chance to create a new space to promote technical mastery of emerging 21st-century skills. With the founding of the groundbreaking BFA in Interaction Design came a provost's invitation to open a shop that benefits students in the major. To create the specifications, Kristian interviewed stakeholders, investigated other shops and college needs and convened envisioning workshops.
Faculty and students throughout the college were already "making with technology," some literally in closets. Kristian then shifted the goal from building a siloed disciplinary lab to creating a world-class place that would be three things: Open, Inspiring and Agile. Kristian, together with Jensen Architects, worked through the many small choices that would make it an excellent place for learning from schematic, through detailed design.
Following these principles, the resulting lab is Open to everyone for as much of the day as possible, it is Inspiring to anyone who comes by and it is Agile to promote flexible and fast work. To break out of some of the college's bureaucratic traditions, new cultural rules, and policies needed to be created to support the vision and benefit of the students wanting to push boundaries.
In this space technology-centered disciplines combine with traditional approaches to give students access to equipment ranging from a soldering iron, VR platforms, electronics, industrial sewing machines and 3D printers. Supplies and tools are within arm’s reach, enticing students to hack, tinker and prototype— together. One day, a painter and textile artist might experiment with digitally printed fabric, for example, or an architect might work with a design student to test ideas for 3D printed ceramic building components.
Today the Hybrid Lab is always busy and expanded its footprint within just a few years. The lab features prominently on donor tours and is a showcase for CCA’s ability to partner with the region’s tech industry. Many students credit the lab with giving them the confidence to see technology as a powerful force for social and cultural change, thus embodying CCA's mission.