It is hard to imagine the makeLab without the influence of The Coleman Foundation. makeLab was established in response to emerging technologies and the need for a place where students could fully engage in design, fabrication and assembly of architecture. The Coleman Foundation’s mission of implementing entrepreneurialism into the academy was a perfect fit for the makeLab, given the fact that all the projects we have worked on have an inherent risk and reward to the outcome. To this end, the makeLab’s mission statement reflected the Coleman Foundation’s influence:
The mission of makeLab is to use digital fabrication as an entrepreneurial opportunity and to demonstrate the theory and practice of design through technological and manual competences.
Design is always our starting point. Regardless of technology, we focus on design fundamentals and sound design decisions. Unlike the traditional studio, projects in the makeLab are created at full-scale. The “make” implication requires that the students are held accountable to the realities of practice and full-scale implications. In the spring of 2011 makeLab completed the first projects that tested out ability to design, fabricate and implement full scale projects for private clients. These projects showed how students can succeed in the academy at real-world enterprise while providing successful design solutions. With this unique formula, students now consider the cost and risk variables imbedded in all design projects. The students found that this was not necessarily a hindrance to design but rather another design variable that informed the design process. The balance sheet became a part of the design equation thus giving the students the full experience of theory and practice.
Now, makeLab will take the next step in fulfilling its mission. Bolstered by the success of the initial projects a group of students have embarked on a new venture: makeLab-Enterprise. The project is led by a few entrepreneurial students that are using the businesses plan provided by the Coleman Foundation coursework to expand makeLab’s abilities. The team has raised private capital to fund an additional CNC machine that will increase capability, productivity and profit. makeLab will host this student venture at Lawrence Tech in the current (and expanding) makeLab.
In the following weeks the makeLab blog will have student updates on the assembly of the new machine and other developments with makeLab-Enterprise.