Administrators are finalizing plans for a new building for the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, with construction slated to begin in December.
Since its creation one year ago, Tsai CITY has grown into a hub for entrepreneurship in its temporary home off Broadway Ave. Tsai CITY has worked with over 1,750 students, supported more than 90 teams of student entrepreneurs and has hired 12 Mentors in Residence who offer guidance to student teams. But behind the scenes, the center’s staff and administrators have been soliciting feedback from students on the design of a new, larger building for the center that will open by the spring of 2020. The finalized architectural plans for the new building are now pending approval from the Yale Corporation.
“We want to create an ecosystem for students to develop and pursue their ideas, be it a social movement, a rock band, a documentary series, or a nonprofit organization,” Associate Director of Tsai CITY Onyeka Obiocha told the News. “With the construction of a new building, we are creating a physical space that will be as dynamic as the students coming in. The space will emphasize collaboration and interaction, helping students [to] learn from each other and realize their ideas.”
The new 12,500 square foot, two-story steel and glass building will be located at the southern end of the Becton Plaza behind the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, University Planner Kari Nordstrom wrote in a statement. The building will feature an open studio with a flexible configuration for different events, nine meeting rooms of various sizes, administrative offices and intimate areas to facilitate social interaction, Nordstrom added. Upon completion of the project, the building will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, which is awarded to sustainable construction projects and buildings.
According to Tsai CITY’s Managing Director Kassie Tucker, the new location will make Tsai CITY closer to “all of [its] collaborators around campus,” which will increase their opportunities to work together. Tucker told the News that the building’s proximity to the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, the Center for Business and the Environment, the engineering buildings and the School of Management will encourage interaction among many of the center’s principal beneficiaries and strengthen the center’s interdisciplinary role on campus.
The creation of Tsai CITY was announced in May 2017 after the University received a major donation from Joseph Tsai ’86 LAW ’90. Tsai’s gift was allocated toward an endowed fund that covers all operating costs for the center and will support the construction project, Obiocha said.
Peter Schulam, the chair of the School of Medicine’s urology department, was appointed as the center’s interim executive director last year. Tucker said the center is still searching for a permanent director.
With development of the building in its final stages, the center is now soliciting feedback from its student advisory board on its future programming, according to Obiocha. He added that although the building’s architectural plans have been set in stone, the future of Tsai CITY remains “dynamic.”
Anusha Manglik ’21, who participates in the center’s startup accelerator program, said that she was excited for the new building. Manglik said that since fourteen accelerator teams compete for space in the center’s current location on weekends, she looks forward to Tsai CITY’s larger home.
Tsai CITY aims to “inspire and support students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to address real-world problems,” according to the mission statement on its website.
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