McMurtry College is planning to create a Design Space in its current TV room, which will be open to students across campus early next semester. This space will house a variety of design tools and software for students to create personal projects and host design-related gatherings. 

Rice Housing and Dining approached the McMurtry College student body in October last year to create a committee to plan the space. The college government approved the space this March. According to Eli Wilson, a member of the McMurtry Design Space committee, the function of the space is to be a creative area.

“The McMurtry Design Space will be basically a combination of the [Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen] and art studios,” Wilson, a senior, said. “We’re combining their functions and relegating them down to the residential college scale. The Space is going to be where people will be able to realize their creative ideas.”

Isaac Phillips, another member of the planning committee, said he envisions the Design Space as an interdisciplinary resource for students to use tools they might not have access to in class. According to Phillips, a junior, students want more interdisciplinary collaboration, but there is not currently any place on campus for student groups to work together on a project. He hopes the Design Space will meet that need.

“If you’re not in the right major, you can’t gain access to certain buildings like the [Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen],” Phillips said. “Students want to widen their horizons and get hands-on experience, and the Design Space will help them do so ... At the McMurtry Design Space, students can work on individual projects and have access to tools for art, engineering and technology.”

According to Wilson, the Design Space will have four uses: creating art, building models, giving students access to technology and holding gatherings. It is set to feature a wide variety of tools, including a laser cutter, Adobe Creative Suite, music writing programs and coding platforms such as Rhino. In addition to these tools, the committee plans to allocate ample space to potentially hold group meetings, so that students can hold design workshops in the future.

All of the funding for the space has been provided by H&D. According to Phillips and Wilson, the planning committee has not been given a specific budget but everything the committee requested to purchase has been approved by H&D so far. “Once the space opens in spring 2016, access to the Design Space will be available to all interested students after taking a training quiz similar to that required for OEDK access,” Wilson said. 

According to Wilson and Phillips, the committee in charge of creating it has already received interest from members of other colleges to help create similar spaces at their own colleges. Therefore, the success of the McMurtry Design Space could set a powerful precedent for future residential college design spaces to follow.