University of Utah, Lassonde Studios
University of Utah, Lassonde Studios

Live. Create. Launch: Living-Working Communities Can Spur Campus and Community Innovation

University of Utah, Lassonde Studios, Salt Lake City, UT

“What if you could live, eat, sleep and build your startup from scratch, all in one spot? That’s just reality for students living and working in Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah,” wrote editor Áine Cain of Business Insider in regards to Lassonde Studios.

Silicon Valley better watch out—Salt Lake City is offering some serious competition in becoming the hub of emerging start-ups thanks to Lassonde Studios, a living-learning environment at the University of Utah that supports entrepreneurial students by making innovation a 24-7 endeavor. With housing for 400 students ranging from freshman to graduate level and 20,000 sf of making/planning/hacking space, students can live, learn and launch companies all under one roof.

Lassonde Studios is centrally located near the heart of the University of Utah campus. EDA Architects in association with CannonDesign selected the building site from four possible locations for its potential to become a dynamic, unifying space for the campus. The facility serves as a hub for student life and engagement. And unlike other mixed-use housing facilities, Lassonde Studios fosters both digital and analog tinkering. It goes beyond the typical start-up high-bay warehouse spaces to incorporate movable partitions so students interact and explore the physical and social relationships between design, human activity and environment. Access to state-of-the-art technology provides a culture as nimble as a startup, with housing units that can be reconfigured as student needs evolve and change. Startup companies can apply for office space on the first floor. The space and other resources are available for free.

In regards to its layout—the first floor of Lassonde Studios is open to all from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Cement floor, sturdy work benches and movable furniture create the perfect spaces for any type of gatherings. 3-D printers and many other tools are available at no cost. Above this area are four floors of residential space. Residents can choose from four housing options—single rooms, double rooms, lofts and pods. The facility’s “living floors” are themed based on the university’s existing strengths:

  • Sustainability & Global Impact (2nd floor): Geared towards students looking to an environmental impact and that are dedicated to sustainable living.
  • Products, Design & Arts (3rd floor): Offers state-of-the-art tools to make student dreams a reality.
  • Adventure & Gear (4th floor): Is furnished with hammocks, picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and bright colors.
  • Games & Digital Media (5th floor): For those who love all things digital, complete with monitors for coding and gaming chairs.

In 2019 alone, 521 startup teams were launched, and 64 areas of study were pursued by students living in the facility. $402 million has been raised in company funding from 2002-2019 to help student teams launch ideas in any field or industry imaginable, including medical technology, energy, retail, virtual reality. More stats and examples of student start-ups can be found in the university’s annual report.

“We want to accelerate the time it takes for students to see their ideas become a reality, and we want to give them a place where they can meet and form interdisciplinary teams… the Lassonde Studios will galvanize that community and give every student the opportunity to pursue their dreams.” – Taylor Randall, Dean of the School of Business, University of Utah