Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Big Ten Student Design Challenge

The CU Community Fab Lab is excited to participate as the focal site for the UIUC submission to Herman Miller’s Big Ten Student Design Challenge for 2019. Help us transform a truly unique public space on campus to foster better engagement and learning experiences for patrons of many kinds. We’ve collected some resources here to help teams better know how to craft a competitive proposal.

Competition Resources

Ava Wolf’s Presentation
Last Years Winning Proposal
Herman Miller Products

Helpful thought starters

What makes naughtone… Living Office Fly Through

Herman Miller Design Resources

Living Office Design Solutions for Group Work Revit Families Chip Charts (once a product is selected, the chip charts will show all finish options for that product) Product Configurators (a fun way to see finish options applied to a product)

Location Details

Fab Lab Outside 2019

Our building – 2nd oldest on campus – located at 1301 S Goodwin Ave in Urbana, right across the street from the ACES library.

The building selected for the Big Ten Student Design Challenge at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the Fine and Applied Arts Performing Arts Annex, which was originally built for Agronomy in 1908 and is the 2nd oldest building on campus. The aged, limestone and brick facade commands a degree of character and shows evidence of its history through remnants such as horse barn doors, cargo hooks and steam heating systems. This building has been renovated many times over the years to serve as a horse barn, construction storage, photo development lab, printing press studio, exhibition space and more. It is currently a vibrant space that houses the Fab Lab, Dance studios and Architecture workspace. This building was selected for the challenge because it is used by a variety of people for a variety of activities and offers an exciting opportunity to apply design thinking principles to solve a unique set of problems.  

The specific space that has been chosen for the competition is a highly visible space that is directly adjacent to the primary entrance, and is the first space most visitors encounter as they traverse to other parts of the building. The main programmed use of the space is for textiles projects and prototyping, but it is also used as a place to gather, dialogue, work and collaborate on other projects. This area of the Fab Lab was selected because it is a prominent and lively location within our facility that serves a high volume of students interested in hands-on learning.  It is primarily the home for our textile fabrication equipment, but also functions as a flexible use space to enhance lab section demonstrations, small group learning, student organization meetings, and other collaborative projects in classroom areas that are adjacent or nearby. We hope that a redesign will help harmonize the workflow, encourage engagement, and highlight the creativity that is central to the Performing Art Annex. Morever, we are looking for a novel design solution that will combine storage, furnishings, wall treatments, and flexible seating options for this multi-use and highly creative workspace.

The entry room is split between the textiles space, proposed for renovation here, and an open classroom computer lab area. The 750 square foot area fills a major role as a small classroom breakout and workshop space for 8-12 learners, often complementing larger classes that take place just down the hall. It has two large windows and a high ceiling with fluorescent lamps. The space is currently furnished with a central table, office chairs and surrounding desks that face the walls. There are also cabinets, rags and shelves for storage. The white painted brick walls are currently used to display ongoing and finished projects of the FabLab’s staff and patrons, all of which have stories worth telling.


The Performing Arts Annex at large hosts interdisciplinary classes and workshops for the STEAM fields that include computational applications, digital fabrication and rapid prototyping for the Visual and Performing Arts, Informatics, Architecture, LAS, Business and Engineering. In addition, students from across campus often visit the Annex to learn more about the design and iteration process. Learning activities that occur in the proposed space are sometimes incidental, informal or unstructured and at other times, such as during make-a-thons, workshops or classes, specifically scripted with learning objectives or standards. Located between the main Quad and two major dormitory complexes, The Performing Arts Annex receives a high volume of foot traffic passing the building each day.  

We are interested in modular design when possible.  Having furniture on wheels or otherwise mobile is very helpful to our operations. There is a great deal of available vertical space that goes mostly underutilized. The space is used by a variety of kinds of patrons with different access needs, including younger children. Furniture will need to be durable enough to hold up against heavy dropped objects, hot glue, paint, permanent marker and more. The space provides access to a variety of textiles-related materials and tools that need to be organized, but preferably visible, to encourage their creative use by patrons. In short, we are looking for a novel design solution that will combine storage, furnishings, wall treatments, and flexible seating options for this multi-use and highly creative workspace.


For questions about the functions of the space or to arrange to visit for a guided Q&A tour please contact Inquiries related to the competition can be sent to Ava Wolf or Karen Miller.