UNT’s new Design Research Center in downtown Dallas is the first of its kind in the region. Opened in January, the center serves as an “urban laboratory” where graduate students and faculty use design to solve contemporary problems. The renovated 3,000-square-foot space, which includes a conference room, student work stations and classrooms, is a former police substation at 1908 Elm St., adjacent to the UNT System Building.
Interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students at the center will work with community nonprofits, government agencies and corporations to address social, environmental, economic and public policy concerns. Researchers already are working with public television station KERA to create a “Kids and Family” portal and website; collaborating with the nonprofit Downtown Dallas Inc. on ideas for improving the quality of life and economy in the West End and other Dallas districts; and helping employees of the World Factory corporation with innovations for developing new products.
Directed by Keith Owens, associate professor of communication design, the center will support graduate students pursuing degrees in innovation studies along with faculty members from five UNT schools and colleges: business, public affairs and community service, merchandising and hospitality management, and arts and sciences, as well as visual arts and design. Researchers are expected to present preliminary results of some of their studies at a grand opening this spring.