Creating a Passion for Collaboration

Siebel Center for Design – University of Illinois

The Siebel Center for Design provides a new means of channeling students by creating an passion toward issues and lives of consequence. This new facility will help Illinois become famous as an incubator of outstanding young talent with a new and unusual collection of skills, fostered by a culture of multidisciplinary education and student-led problem discovery and problem solving.


Students master design thinking by acquiring skills like problem
framing and research, analytical reasoning, ideation and
conceptualization, prototyping and communication.


Although some projects may be individual, most involve collaboration
in interdisciplinary teams. These skills are an important component of
the experience within and outside the curriculum.


Students have access to resources for self-directed projects,
volunteer initiatives, and other ventures. Independence in creating these
opportunities and identifying the resources and skills they require is
central to the students’ experiences.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
60,000 SF

SCUP Excellence Award, Honor Award
AIA Pennsylvania Honor Award

Siebel Center for Design’s upper lobby is adjacent to Starlight Café, and offers several seating and gathering options. The tall tables and chairs are easily moved together to accommodate larger groups and users have easy access to electrical outlets and USB ports. For smaller groups there comfortable high-back chairs situated in front of some spectacular east-facing floor-to-ceiling windows.

Sunset & Twilight Studios
The collaboration studios on the upper and lower levels, the studios are available for faculty and classes to use for course instruction, small group meetings, and other collaborative endeavors. This maximizes interaction between groups and students from all majors.

The Shop
The Shop, located on Siebel Center for Design’s lower level, offers 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, a large-format printer, woodworking power tools, a CNC router, a water jet cutter, storage for materials, and much more. Several types of hand tools and low-fidelity materials are also at disposal.

Garage Space
The “garage,” Siebel Center for Design’s small-but-spacious garage-style collaboration area, is designed to meet the needs of student organizations building big things – like Illini Solar Car‘s latest vehicle, Brizo. Bonus: The garage door opens out onto the Center’s south plaza, just across the way from our friends at Art + Design.

On any given day, the center could host a class on designing for social impact or training for the shop space’s waterjet cutter. It’s not uncommon to find English and engineering majors sharing ideas, exploring concepts on moveable whiteboards, or rearranging the center’s furniture in order to rehearse a presentation.

Our benefactors chose a team who truly understands light and materials and how that affects your health and wellbeing and provides an inspiration to a creative process.”

Rachel Switzky Director, Siebel Center for Design

Since opening in 2021, the center has quickly become a campus destination in both expected and unexpected ways. Students and faculty learning to use the center for the first time reported positive experiences as they access technology that encourages brainstorming, iteration, and the birth of new ideas.