IKM Inc

Carnegie Mellon University Mellon Institute Collaborative Habitat


Location: Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania
Completion: 2015
Project Area: 5,440 ft2
Market: Higher Education, Research
Services: Architecture, Planning, Interior Design


Derived from the IKM planning study as one of the projects for the renovation of Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon Institute, the Collaborative Habitat project has evolved from an initial concept to an innovative design to engage science students. The result is a dynamic space that fosters gathering, promotes informal social collisions and provides opportunities for collaborative research interactions.  Originally conceived as a collaborative lab, the space has evolved to comprise a gathering room and the revitalization of a well-used corridor.

The collaboration room includes flexible furniture that can be rearranged by students as groups come and go, and comfortable seating for breaks in between classes, small group encounters, or just hanging out with classmates. The room also houses the department’s mailboxes driving faculty and students to the site regularly.

Design solutions sought to infuse the space with natural light in an iconic building that otherwise does not suggest light and airy to the casual observer. Interior walls were removed to connect the space to the existing building light wells to flood the collaboration room with day lighting and views to the outside. Lighting design infused the dark corridors with creative techniques to enliven the space and promote the energy.