The SHED at RIT combines different disciplines in a light-filled space
Officials at the Rochester Institute of Technology are showing off the progress made in a major new building on campus.
It’s called The SHED, which stands for Student Hall for Exploration and Development, and the mostly glass and metal building is unlike any other facility on the university's Henrietta campus.
Unlike many other buildings at RIT, this one is not made of red brick. The $120 million project, which began construction in 2020, includes nearly 2,300 pieces of glass on both the exterior and interior of the building, and 2,700 pieces of aluminum composite material.
But it does have one token brick, located in a first-floor display case.
Officials said it is the biggest capital project since the Henrietta campus opened in 1968.
The building, located near the Polisseni ice rink, features a huge, light-filled atrium, where students gather and informally collaborate.
And that’s the whole idea, according to RIT President David Munson. He noted that a lot of RIT students have interests that go beyond science and technology.
“We attract all of these STEM kinds of students," Munson said. "Probably about 70% of our student body are in what I call hardcore STEM areas, such as engineering and computing and science. But a whole lot of those students are actually very artistic."
The SHED includes several "makerspaces," including woodworking, metal shop, 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics and textiles.
But the complex also features the performing arts, with the Sklarsky Glass Box Theater, which includes louvers within the glass walls to provide daylight and blackout modes.
Talitha Sutton is a computer engineering technology student, and she likes the idea that the new facility includes both engineering courses and the performing arts.
“Because a lot of students in engineering, they do take a couple of performing arts classes in general or their scholarship is based off a performing art, so they kind of need it in a way anyway. I think it is pretty helpful,” Sutton said.
Theodore Rockey is a mechanical engineering technology major, and he also likes the mashup of different academic and performance disciplines in the new space.
“We get a lot of different experiences with all the different machinery and equipment,” Rockey said.
“It is not limited to what classes you're taking," he added. "Every student is exposed to many other students with their different majors and their different classes and projects.”
The RIT president said that a main concept with the new complex is to bring together a number of different disciplines together to help spark students’ creativity.
Munson said that can add up to the kind of engineering or other types of students that many creative companies are looking for.
“You think of a company like Apple, where yes, Apple has wonderful technology, but their competitors have the same technology," Munson said. "But Apple distinguishes itself with design, and I think RIT is one of the schools that is graduating students who are prepared to work for that kind of company, or invent the next company.”
The SHED complex at RIT is mostly done; students are taking classes there, but some construction work is also going on at the same time. RIT officials expect that to be wrapped up in mid-January.