Piñon Hall.


An innovative facility for innovative ideas

This fall, Colorado Mesa University students will have an exciting new living option. Piñon Hall is undergoing a major renovation that will turn it into a new living-learning community aimed at inspiring collaboration between different disciplines — the Maverick Innovation Center.

Piñon’s east wing will be unrecognizable to former hall residents. The first floor dorm rooms will be replaced with a common area and garage-like work space where students may team up to bring their ideas to life.

“These will be large open areas with electrical outlets, compressed air and probably 3D printers,” said Kent Marsh, CMU’s Director of Facilities Services. “We’re looking at potentially including a movable wall system that would enable us to configure that space. We’ll need to have a conference room, and we’d like to have a couple of offices for ideas that get to the incubator stage of the business. There also need to be some smaller rooms for collaboration.”

The building’s west wing will remain dormitory space, though the 48-year-old furniture, windows and doors will be updated. There has also been discussion of replacing the communal bathrooms on each floor with kitchenettes. At least one of the upper floors in the east wing will be fitted with apartments. “That’s the idea of this whole facility,” Marsh said. “Not only are you working and collaborating with other students, but you’ve got all of your living facilities in that same location.”

Faculty from every CMU discipline have been invited to weigh in on what sort of amenities their students might need to develop, design and eventually build and sell products of their own creation. “For instance, an engineering student may be working on a design project and needs help from a business student to figure out what it takes to turn the concept into an actual project that someday potentially can be sold. The idea is to bring the different disciplines together to collaborate,” said Marsh.

The timeline is a little tight, but Marsh is not worried about it. A few other institutions have similar facilities, and CMU’s faculty members are no strangers to encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. It also helps that the project is a remodel and not new construction. Besides, Marsh said, “We’re used to doing miracles around here.”

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