Racing Toward the Future: UC Students Compete in Digital Futures Design Sprint


Students from across the University of Cincinnati recently assembled at the 1819 Innovation Hub to participate in a design sprint—a week-long process, used to quickly generate ideas—that will help GBBN complete the interior design of UC’s Digital Futures building.

The focus of the process was to develop an inspiring design that can be fabricated within the 1819 Innovation Hub’s Makerspace for a series of wood panels that will wrap the interior core of the Digital Futures building, where researchers from multiple disciplines will gather over shared resources and communal space. Like the future inhabitants of Digital Futures—which will bring together interdisciplinary research teams from across the university—the students who participated in the process came from diverse backgrounds (including Communication Design, Fine Arts, Industrial Design, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and Architecture).

After a kickoff meeting, in which architects from GBBN gave an overview of the project and its place within Digital Futures, teams of students were advised by staff members of the 1819 Innovation Hub’s Makerspace and GBBN as they set out to develop a design that would express a digital language within the wood panels.

Four teams of students had a week to generate ideas, develop their design, and fabricate a prototype to test its feasibility and look before presenting their designs to a panel of judges. That panel, which included representatives from UC’s Department of Planning + Design + Construction, UC’s SAID (School of Architecture & Interior Design), GBBN Architects, Terrex Development, and DAAP Lab, then judged the designs based on overall aesthetics, technical feasibility, and consistency with the design and program of Digital Futures.

Top honors ended up going to a team of architecture and design students, Josh Maddux, Jodokus Sieverding, and Ethan Wahl, while second place (and the “Audience Choice” Award) went to a team of Aerospace Engineering majors, Bharadwaj Dogga, Arshad Mohammad, and Tri Nguyen.

Far from over, the Digital Futures design team plans to continue working with students from the winning team and the staff of the 1819 Innovation Hub’s Makerspace throughout the Fall 2021 Semester to refine the design and prepare the panels for installation within Digital Futures.

“In my twenty-plus years of working in higher education architecture,” says GBBN Principal and project lead, Zachary Zettler, “I’ve never been able to engage students at this level…. I’m really excited to see how it gets integrated into the final design of the building.”

GBBN is working with UC, Terrex Development, Messer Construction, Pedco (MEP), Schaefer (Structural), Bayer Becker (Civil ), and BCL (Technology) on the Digital Futures project. To learn more, check out our case study. You can also read about its neighbor here.