On a recent fall afternoon, sunlight filtered through the second-floor windows of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, illuminating the chipped wood flooring and exposed brick walls of the empty sprawling space.
“It is a magnificent space in the heart of New York City that screams potential,” Will McHale says. “It brings to mind older industrial spaces—workshops and factories located throughout the Northeast.”
That makes it the “ideal home” for Parsons School of Design’s new Making Center, says McHale, who directs the facility. Set to open in fall 2016, this striking 28,000-square-foot space on two floors of the SJDC will be abuzz with activity as students from throughout The New School gather to design and prototype projects—everything from fashion, products and artwork to media technology, architecture, and interiors—under one roof.
“The Making Center will allow students from across the schools to work alongside one another in a dynamic environment where cross-disciplinary collaboration is encouraged,” says Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. “When you bring different perspectives and conversations into the picture, you’re going to have more interesting outcomes.”
The space will house a vast array of equipment, including 3D printers, a full library of traditional tools and machinery, printmaking resources, textile equipment, and much more. Technicians and facility managers will lead training sessions for tools and processes, and there will be a system to “make resources more transparent and accessible to students,” McHale says.
“Networking these tools and processes better and providing an easy-to-understand map of what is available to students and where these resources are located are among the goals of the new making culture on campus,” he adds.
At the Making Center, McHale envisions “students pursuing their graduate degrees working a table away from an undergrad fashion or design student,” and “freshmen creating next to their more experienced peers.” He also imagines a “hive of activity”—a space that embodies The New School’s spirit of creativity and collaboration.
“We will push the new space to help us think about the acts of teaching, learning, making, interaction, and collaboration in new, progressive ways,” McHale says. “It will be a petri dish of sorts, producing tangible evidence of ideas and thinking, as well as brilliant accidents and unknown trajectories that are the root of real innovation.”
For news on the progress of the Making Center, use the hashtag #ParsonsMakingCenter.