UI Alumnus funds $25M for new Siebel Center for Design

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URBANA – Thanks to a gift of $25 Million from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will gain a new campus wide hub for student-focused design thinking and learning.

The gift was announced by the Foundation and the University on Tuesday, October 4.

This new two-story building will reside on one of the major campus axes, between Huff Hall and the Art and Design Building. Officials say this location is symbolic in that it connects north and south campus, to bring students from various fields together to “solve real-world challenges, drawing on knowledge developed in home disciplines and guided by a rigorous integrative framework.”

The Siebel Center for Design will facilitate and support innovative approaches to product, process and user interface design, with an emphasis on advanced technology, creativity, purpose and multidisciplinary collaboration.

Alumnus Tom Siebel is the founder and chair of the Foundation and conceived the idea for the new center. He says bringing all types of disciplines to one center will bring great results.

“The combination of top-tier academics and entrepreneurial drive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is powerful. By infusing all areas of study with the multidisciplinary approaches of design thinking, this facility will create unlimited opportunities for the students to fuel and nurture that drive,” Siebel explains.

According to Andrea Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering at UIUC, Siebel’s own degrees from the university, ranging from history to business to computer science, which was unusual at the time.

“Today, we know that cross-disciplinary educational experiences like Tom pursued are critical in preparing our students to leave here ready to make significant impacts in the world,” Cangellaris adds.

With goal of inspiring collaboration, the new center will feature five team-based collaboration studios for up to 400 students, including one studio for large-scale construction and graded access for big prototypes. It will also feature workshops for 3-D printing, water-jet cutting and digital media. Public gathering spaces, meeting rooms and galleries will also be built to encourage more informal interaction.

The 60,000 square-foot building will be designed architectural practice Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Groundbreaking for the Siebel Center for Design is planned for summer 2017, with construction expected to take about 18 months.

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