The Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program and its new residential building are ready to welcome students, faculty, and staff for the 2021-22 academic year.

The 232,000 gross-square-foot residence hall will soon be home to nearly 600 Hokies, including participants in the Studio 72, Innovate, and Rhizome living-learning communities; student-athletes; and a resident faculty principal, Tim Baird, and his family.

Living-learning communities within the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program 

Virginia Tech’s living-learning communities connect students’ academic and co-curricular experiences to create a supportive, dynamic learning environment that becomes home.

With the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program, elements of a residential college and living-learning community are merged into something new. While taking what works well from both models, a live-in faculty principal, student leadership, strong community traditions, and strong faculty mentorship, the facility will create a distinct type of living-learning experience for students.

Studio 72, Rhizome, and Innovate are three distinct living-learning communities within the broader Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program; all three are ready to meet this charge when they usher in residents later this week.

The Studio 72 community encourages creativity and artistic development, with an emphasis on collaborative art-making outside of the classroom. Students can participate in weekly critique sessions and semesterly arts showcase events, as well as hands-on making workshops with local and visiting artists, faculty, and staff.

Rhizome is a brand-new community that explores the roles art, design, construction, planning, and analytical interventions have in shaping the built and natural environment and bringing about change. Students have the opportunity to engage in curricular and co-curricular activities to analyze the roots, interconnections, and multidimensional character of global challenges in a yearly rotating project that integrates theory and practice.

Innovate is a living-learning community open to students of all majors who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, visionaries, and business leaders. Innovate assists students in developing new business ideas, taking steps from ideation to creation, and furthering current ventures through the many programs and opportunities it offers.

Exterior photo of the completed CID residence hall
Exterior photo of the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program facility. Ray Meese for Virginia Tech.
Bright orange staircase in CID lobby.
Burnt orange staircase in the building's lobby. Ray Meese for Virginia Tech.
tables and chairs in an indoor collaboration space with bright orange carpet.
One of the building's many bright and airy study and collaboration spaces. Mary Desmond for Virginia Tech.

“There is no doubt that the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program is a one-of-a-kind facility, a national model for how the boundaries of academic and student life can be blurred to facilitate a holistic and integrated student experience. There is nothing traditional about what we’ve done here — and we fully anticipate that students and their learning will blossom in new ways because of the inescapable opportunities ever-present in the building,” said Frank Shushok, vice president for student affairs.

All residents will interact closely with Tim Baird, live-in faculty principal. Baird, associate professor of geography, will deliver ongoing opportunities for students and faculty to form social and intellectual connections within the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program.

Baird has also served as a senior fellow at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology since 2016, and as director of the pathways to sustainability minor since 2015. He and his wife, Kiyah Duffey, director of strategic innovation for the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, along with their three children and dog, Winnie, will live alongside students in an apartment within the facility.

“People may wonder: why would we have faculty live with students? The short answer is that students benefit from informal interactions with faculty. Time in class is great, but we can do more. And frankly, faculty can really benefit as well! This opportunity to bring these diverse living-learning communities together within a traditional residential college model, with a live-in faculty member and family, is super exciting. Just imagine all the creative, entrepreneurial, and transformative partnerships and  collaborations that can grow between students and faculty in a space like the CID. It’s going to be magic,” said Baird. 

Tim Baird posed at table.
Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program Faculty-in-Principal Tim Baird. Mary Desmond for Virginia Tech.

Building features

The building’s modern features were thoughtfully designed to facilitate innovation, collaboration, and social interactions among a variety of disciplines and communities.

Cutting-edge partnership and research areas, creative lounges, performance studios, and maker spaces — the latter of which will be unveiled later this fall — will play host to a diverse range of students and faculty passionate about the arts, design, entrepreneurship, and more.

Elements like the auditorium and outdoor learning hubs outfitted with tables, benches, and larger-than-life whiteboards will also help maximize opportunities for organic interactions among students and faculty.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and bright and airy layouts throughout the building offer a direct vantage into the Town of Blacksburg, Moss Arts Center, Burruss Hall, Newman Library, Graduate Life Center, and numerous other campus landmarks nearby.

An accessible faculty apartment, barrier-free courtyards, and gentle sloping outdoor pathways reflect Virginia Tech’s ongoing commitment to deliver accessible and inclusive spaces. The building is also fitted with ADA-compliant student residences, and gender neutral student bathrooms and restrooms.

Several spaces within the Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program were collaboratively designed and constructed through a collective effort known as the Living Lab. The partnership among the faculty and students in College of Architecture and Urban Studies; VMDO with MEP consultant, LPA; and W.M. Jordan, resulted in concept designs of the faculty apartment, Rhizome lounge, and Maker Suite. The lab designed and built tables for the Assembly Workroom within the suite. The Maker Suite’s three experimental walls — plaster veneer with bamboo structure, stacked cork, and interlocking machined plywood — were also designed and constructed by the Living Lab.

Artistic element hung at entrance of CID LLP building.
One of the many artistic features designed by Living Lab students. Mary Desmond for Virginia Tech.

“I want to applaud the hard work and partnership among the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities; Student Affairs; Division of Finance; contracting teams; Town of Blacksburg; and countless other stakeholders. Your efforts have been integral in bringing this dynamic capital construction project to fruition today,” said Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president and chief business officer.

“The Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Program will be a bellwether for the exciting collaboration, cross-cultural research, and partnerships that will eventually become synonymous with the planned Creativity and Innovation District.”

Anchoring the district will be the Moss Arts Center; Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; School of Performing Arts; Theatre 101; School of Visual Arts; Squires Student Center; Newman Library; and the Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown.

For more information on residential colleges and living-learning communities, refer to living-learning programs at Virginia Tech

Learn more about capital construction projects at Virginia Tech on the Division of Campus Planning, infrastructure, and Facilities website. 

Video below: Get an inside look into the Creativity and Innovation District construction process through timelapsed footage and photos from summer 2019 through today.

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Photo Gallery

Additional Building Details

  • Building address: 185 Kent Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061

  • New construction: 232,000 gross square feet

  • Sustainable features: Environmentally friendly building components include energy-efficient HVAC systems and windows, water-efficient plumbing, refillable water bottle stations, and building materials secured through sustainable procurement practices. The Creativity and Innovation District Living-Learning Community is on track to receive LEED Silver Certification. 

  • Design/build: Builder - WM Jordan; architect - Hanbury; criteria consultant architect - VMDO Architects P.C.

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