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Trinity College Innovation Center

Hartford, CT

New Trinity Innovation Center supports
entrepreneurial opportunities for students

Trinity College wants to help its students realize their entrepreneurial dreams. So, it’s giving them the tools to launch their own businesses—and learn from existing ones—just down the road from campus.

With the help of a $2.5 million grant from the state of Connecticut, the college opened the Trinity Innovation Center in downtown Hartford. The Center supports students’ entrepreneurial ambitions in multiple ways. It hosts programming on innovation and entrepreneurship for interested students – and gives them a place to collaborate with their peers. It’s also home to an employee training program for information technology giant Infosys as well as Digital Health CT, a healthcare technology startup accelerator. 

A Bold, Dynamic Design

Transformed from a former bank space that posed architectural challenges, the redesigned Center boasts flexible spaces and communal areas to enable group and individual work in a host of different work styles. The 13,000-square-foot area includes a large training room, an open-space common area, smaller “huddle spaces” along the walls, a multifunctional work café, smaller design studios and team rooms. The Center is filled with aesthetic elements that make students feel welcome and embody Trinity’s mission to foster bold, dynamic thinkers. The ceiling features an eye-catching triangular grid in Trinity’s school colors: vibrant yellow and blue. One wall carries over these colors in a floor-to-ceiling graphic of the Trinity campus’s “Long Walk” and quadrangle with the Hartford skyline in the background.

The mobility of the furniture was hugely important, as the students work in teams and need to quickly link up to work on projects. They need to be able to collaborate at a moment’s notice, and the layout facilitates that. KI’s furniture mobility and finishes fit the design vision of functionality and character.

Monika Avery, lead project designer and principal with the SLAM Collaborative, the architecture and design firm behind the Center

KI furniture solutions anchor each space functionally and visually within the Center. Students can find Doni stack chairs throughout in a neutral palette, allowing the colorful ceiling grid to shine. Paired with Pillar tables, café-height Doni stools break up the common area while ensuring a consistent aesthetic across the space. Huddle spaces along the walls feature C-Table personal worksurfaces with matching Trinity yellow frames. Students can take a lunch break or brainstorm in MyPlace lounge furniture in the huddle spaces. A combination of low- and high-back styles delineates each area in the otherwise open space. High-back Affina lounge seating creates a corner nook that looks out onto a plaza below. To give students convenient places to charge their devices, Isle Power Towers proved a versatile solution, especially in spaces where core drilling wasn’t allowed in the building.

Entrepreneurial Thinking

The Trinity College team sought out KI furniture solutions in part because they had toured and were inspired by Upward, an energetic co-working space that KI and SLAM Collaborative had partnered on previously. Upward is characterized by flexible spaces that allow for spontaneous collaboration, a design approach often championed by high-tech, fast-growth companies. According to research conducted by KI, around 85 percent of these companies have office layouts that encourage face-to-face interaction. More than 90 percent give employees workstations that aren’t traditional desks.

We have a strong pool of talent and are positioned to bridge the liberal arts with digital technology and innovation. We’re proud to have Trinity be a strong presence in downtown Hartford.

Sonia Cardenas, Trinity’s acting dean of the faculty, vice president for academic affairs, vice president for strategic initiatives and innovation and professor of political science.

The Center also embodies this sort of entrepreneurial design thinking. And it’s proving to be a recruiting tool for students and employers alike.

“This project realizes our vision of creating transformative experiences and opportunities through bold new partnerships,” said Sonia Cardenas.

KI furniture solutions have helped the Trinity College Innovation Center equip a new generation of students with the entrepreneurial skills they’ll need to succeed. With facilities like this, Trinity and Hartford are sure to be magnets for talent in the years to come.

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