The facility, called the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, is operated by Chicago-based collaborative UI LABS, which brings together universities, industries, national labs, and civic and government partners to “research, develop, and apply solutions to critical economic and industrial challenges.”
Located near downtown Chicago in the city’s Industrial Corridor, the 64,000-sf facility occupies a portion of an existing 285,000-sf manufacturing building.
From the architects:
“SOM began by transforming the building’s rear facade, glazing three of the building’s 14 structural bays from floor to ceiling in order to create a welcoming entrance and flood the space with daylight.
“Once inside, visitors step into a double-height open atrium — known as the town hall — which has been fit out as a work, social, and reception space. The town hall leads to a state-of-the-art classroom and a multipurpose room that can hold 75 and 200 people, respectively. These two rooms encourage both formal and informal learning and have been equipped with the technology required for collaboration with off-site partners.
“Behind the town hall lies the heart of the facility: a 22,400-square-foot digital manufacturing floor, a collaborative engineering space, two open workspaces, a cafe/social hub, and permanent staff office, conferencing, and boardroom spaces. Flexibility and visual connectivity underpin the comprehensive design.
“Floor-to-ceiling ultra-transparent glass separates the manufacturing floor from the open workspaces and cafe. This wall visually connects manufacturing activity to the collaboration spaces and helps diffuse daylight from the existing clerestory windows deep into the facility, flooding the interior in natural light.
“Workspaces are programmed to accommodate variation in densities and types of furnishings. Modular workstations and breakout areas are arranged in an open studio setup to foster collaboration, make spatial re-programming simple, and keep sight lines across the facility clear. Staff offices, the boardroom, researchers’ offices, and conferencing areas are similarly flexible.”