Facility Focus (Makerspaces)

Colorado State University: The Nancy Richardson Design Center

Colorado State University 

PHOTOS © STEVE MAYLONE

The $19.2-million, 45,000-square-foot Nancy Richardson Design Center (RDC) on the campus of Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins opened in the spring of 2019. Colorado-based OZ Architecture was tasked with designing a world-class facility to further CSU’s mission as a national leader in design and to create a collaborative space for students and faculty in programs from interior architecture and design, apparel and merchandising, landscape architecture, art, and engineering to product development, entrepreneurship, and construction management.

A primary design driver was to create a space where students and faculty were inspired to ideate, make, and show their work. To that end, the RDC includes a lighting lab, color studio, fabrication labs with high-tech digital routers and milling machines for metal and wood, a prototyping lab with 3D printers and laser cutters, a screen-printing lab, an ultraviolet hybrid printer, textile printers, a seam welding machine, quilting and embroidery machines, a 3D scanner, a vinyl cutter, and a large-format printer.

OZ Interior Design Director Tracy Tafoya, an alum of the design program at CSU, staked a personal interest in creating something for the next generation of designers. “I wanted to be part of designing a place that reflects the high level of creativity and innovation we continue to see from CSU’s talented design students and graduates,” she says.

Communal elements such as garage doors off the fabrication labs open to an “oasis” where students are encouraged to work outdoors and allow transparency of the design process. Pedestrians traversing campus can also walk through a covered portal called “Inspiration Alley,” where glass walls provide a view into the gallery space and ideation lab, highlighting what is possible within.

This facility was made possible due to the support of Nancy and Curt Richardson, cofounders of OtterBox and Blue Ocean. Nancy is also an interior design graduate of CSU.