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Center for Design Innovation


Center for Design Innovation Begins Second Phase of Construction

The Center for Design Innovation, which is focused on accelerating design-intensive activity in northwest North Carolina, is starting construction of its new building in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

Since breaking ground in early 2012, work has focused on infrastructure grading, parking, curbs and gutters, and design.

The new $8 million, 24,000-square-foot Center for Design Innovation building, expected to open next year, will be located on four acres in the southern end of the Innovation Quarter. The center has been working out of a smaller space in Winston Tower since it began operations in 2007.

In addition to news about the start of construction, the Center announced it has named Scott Betz, a professor of art and visual studies at Winston-Salem State University, as interim director. Betz will lead the Center for Design Innovation and serve as co-chair of the search committee for a permanent director.

Betz replaces Carol Strohecker, who left the Center in the summer to become vice provost for academic affairs at the Rhode Island School of Design. Strohecker, founding director of the Center, helped establish its foundation in collaborative research, education, design and community economic development programs based on technologies for data sensing, capture, analysis, modeling and visualization.

Betz has collaborated on numerous projects and public programs since the center’s inception and he looks forward to the year ahead.

“[The Center] has accomplished so much during this initial start-up phase,’’ Betz said, “and we’re poised to build on this foundation.’’

Advanced Design Techniques

The Center for Design Innovation was created in the wake of a 2003 state economic development study that recommended accelerating the growth of design-intensive activity in northwest North Carolina, largely because of the location of several key institutions here.

The Center is a partnership among members of the University of North Carolina system: Winston-Salem State University, the UNC School of the Arts and Forsyth Technical Community College.

Since beginning operation, Center staff and collaborators have worked across disciplines and institutions on projects that include the advanced technologies of motion capture and rapid prototyping. These methods depend on 3D software modeling, in addition to other associated design skills and digital techniques.

Motion capture is used in film animation, video games and mobile platforms. It is also used in studies and clinical practices for physical and occupational therapy, as well as education and planning for dance and sports.

Rapid prototyping is a pre-manufacturing process in which designers create digital models of objects such as medical devices and consumer products, and then output the data files from 3D printers. The resulting sculptural forms serve as “draft” objects that help in testing the designs and refining them. Ultimately, the prototypes lead to commercially viable solutions that can be manufactured in large quantities.

New Center for Design Innovation Home Will be Bigger

The state of North Carolina bought the land for the Center for Design Innovation’s permanent home in 2010. The site at the Innovation Quarter was chosen with the premise that it would spark even more collaboration across academia, industry and community.

“As one of [the Center’s] founding partners, we are excited to see construction begin on the new building,’’ said Gary Green, president of Forsyth Tech. “This facility will allow Forsyth Tech to expand the design skills and technology we can bring to this unique collaboration.’’ It also will better prepare workers for jobs being created in the new economy, he said.

The Center for Design Innovation will represent Forsyth Tech’s second major presence in the Innovation Quarter.

In October, Forsyth Tech announced plans for a $7 million Center for Emerging Technologies at the Innovation Quarter; it is expected to draw more than 1,200 students a year. A building being renovated on Vine Street will house the Center for Emerging Technologies.

Collaborative Design Process

Plans for the new Center for Design Innovation building required collaboration among the university partners and architects.

“We didn’t want to build in constraints that would limit the building’s future,’’ said Jeff Sowers, the project’s lead architect with CJMW Architecture.

Rather than being confined to a box, the building follows the shape of the site, with a motion capture “cube’’ as the iconic element people will see first. The building is designed for easy expansion.