• Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah is a building where 400 students live, sleep, and work on their startup ideas.
• It’s the headquarters of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, the school’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program.
• Executive director Troy D’Ambrosio told Business Insider 1,400 students applied to live in the building, which houses 400.
What if you could live, eat, sleep, and build your startup from scratch, all in one spot?
That’s just reality for students living and working in Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah. Not only does the building house 400 students, it’s a space for people on campus to pursue their entrepreneurial interests.
It boasts free 3D printers, vending machines filled with tools, and plenty of room for students to work on their fledgling businesses and side hustles.
Business Insider spoke with CannonDesign board member and principal Lynne Deninger and design principal Mehrdad Yazdani — who designed the building — as well as Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute executive director Troy D’Ambrosio and University of Utah junior and Lassonde resident JoCee Porter to get a better sense of what it’s like there.
Here’s a look inside the multi-faceted building:
The building and program are named for Canadian businessman and philanthropist Pierre Lassonde, who received an MBA from the University of Utah. He's donated a total of $A32.5 million to both.
The inhabitants of Lassonde range from freshman to PhD candidates. And they're not just business students. 75 different areas of study are represented among the residents.
Anyone at the school can live at Lassonde -- you just need to submit an application explaining why you want to.
'Basically it's focused on ideas and thoughts and shared passion for whatever it is they're trying to accomplish,' Deninger told Business Insider. 'That's what's bringing the students together, as opposed to a year by year definition.'
D'Ambrosio told Business Insider 1,400 students submitted essays, videos, and Facebook pages in order to snag a spot this semester. Only 400 made the cut.
'We wanted to make it as open and porous as we possibly could and so the main floor of the innovation space is open to any student on campus, 24 hours a day,' D'Ambrosio said.
Lassonde Studios is located smack dab in the middle of the University of Utah's campus, making it somewhat of a focal point.
'You don't have to sign up for any specific class, you don't have to pay any fees, you don't have to join any program,' D'Ambrosio added. 'Your first point of engagement is just to walk in the building.'
Once you're in, you'll find a ton of furniture for students to move around and shape the space with.
If you need tools and supplies for a project, you can access vending machines filled with hammers, mallets, and wrenches with your student ID.
Deninger and Yazdani were going for a startup-like vibe that the students can make their own. 'We were building a facility much like a library or a student union that was a crossroad, it was a destination, and it was a place where it catered to a wide range of students,' Yazdani said.
Yazdani said the building is also meant to accommodate different students' varying work styles and schedules. So allowing students to work and live in close proximity was crucial.
'You could have a brilliant idea at 2 a.m. or you could have a brilliant idea at noon,' Yazdani said.
You can also grab a bite to eat anytime. The 24 hour Miller Café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is open to the public. 'I feel like everyone does homework until two in the morning,' Porter, a computer engineering major, told Business Insider. 'Being able to eat while doing that is really nice.'
Porter said there's also a meal cart where chefs can experiment, create, and serve the students new dishes.
For the 400 Lassonde residents, living options include single rooms, double rooms, lofts and pods. Porter said she lived in a pod -- a community of 20 people with several shared bathrooms and a large kitchen.
The common areas are popular spots to mingle. There are plenty of couches, tables, and booths, along with free laundry machines there. 'It becomes like a water cooler, where students actually interact with each other while they're doing their laundry,' D'Ambrosio said.
Porter said, in addition to the first floor and the common areas, popular hang-out spots include the fourth floor hammocks and comfy couches on the fifth floor.
The result of this blend of living and work spaces is a collaborative atmosphere, according to Porter.
'You walk around here and it's like, 'What are you working on?'' Porter told Business Insider. ''What's your side project?' People love to share what they're doing and love to help you out in your situation.'
Porter founded Celebrate Everyday, a nonprofit that provides free prom and wedding dress rentals across Utah, before she arrived at Lassonde. But since, she's said the community has helped her continue to develop her organisation.
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