Project would house 400 students, cost $45M.
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Students interested in starting a business could live, work and perfect their ideas in one place at a building center planned for the University of Utah.
The school's board of trustees approved the design and program for the Lassonde Living Learning Center Tuesday, which is slated to house about 400 students when it opens in Fall 2016.
"It's a space where they can come together and work together … live and get involved in random interactions that create the spark of entrepreneurship," said Troy D'Ambrosio, the executive director of the Lassonde New Venture Development Center. The $45 million project will be funded by a $15 million donation from mining magnate Pierre Lassonde and $30 million in bond proceeds to be paid off through the U.'s housing revenue.
The new project will be similar to the Marriott Honors Residential Scholars Community that opened its doors last year, but would instead offer workshops, materials, computers and business lunch space as well as spots for competitions and events.
"We want to give students a place where it's OK to fail," D'Ambrosio said. The living space isn't just aimed at business students in fact, the more variety, the better.
"I think we kind of segment ourselves too much," D'Ambrosio said. While future artists and engineers could be well-served with some business knowledge, so to could budding entrepreneurs learn from students interested in teaching or philosophy.
Leaders are looking at four possible sites for the dorm near Fort Douglas, the Huntsman Center, Rice-Eccles Stadium or close to the student apartments.
The donation to fund the project is the latest from Lassonde, a Canadian who earned an MBA from the U. and built his wealth in gold mining, though not without some pollution and legal controversy, and has become a major donor in the past decade.