Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) will transform a former window factory on Chicago’s Goose Island into a 94,000-square-foot Digital Lab for Manufacturing. The facility will house the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) and the Illinois Manufacturing Lab, along with various corporate and academic partners. The goal is to develop and demonstrate advanced digital manufacturing, and then deploy these technologies across key industries.
SOM’s design calls for a working manufacturing floor that takes up one-third of the building; a gallery showcasing new innovations in digital manufacturing; instruction space for high school and college students, as well as manufacturing professionals; and meeting rooms. Exposed mechanical and plumbing systems, along with exposed steel walls, enhance the facility’s theme of transparent design.
“The idea of flexibility and a certain amount of fluidity is important,” SOM design partner Brian Lee told the Chicago Tribune. “We need people to be able to create their own spaces and not feel locked in.”
Construction is expected to start this summer, with opening targeted for the first quarter of 2015. The facility — managed by UI Labs, a nonprofit applied-research organization — is the first of 45 proposed by President Barack Obama to promote advanced manufacturing in the United States.