At the Opening of the NYU-Poly Greenhouse

“We were all stuck one floor up, all using one office. It was the only place to go where a space was available,” said Shirley Wu, who is in her final year of an MSc in Management of Technology at NYU-Poly. She described the space where she and other members of a student-run organization used to meet for creative problem solving, something she refers to as “design tinkering.”

But now with the opening of NYU-Poly’s Greenhouse space at 6 MetroTech, space constraint is no longer an issue. The Greenhouse bills itself as a student-run space dedicated to ideation and collaboration, open to students of any background to come together and develop new ideas and projects.

Steve Kuyan, founder and advisor to the NYU-Poly Entrepreneurship and Innovation Association, addressed the sizable crowd at the opening on January 30: “This is not about creating innovation; it’s about harvesting it. It’s our job to harness innovation, and give you the means to create things.” Creative students like Shirley Wu and the members of her organization are already there in numbers at NYU-Poly – now they have a space to themselves where they can carry out their work.

Around the space, students, engineers, professors and staff talked excitedly talking, and tables were set up in a corner where people had designed LEGO models of creative space designs with clay figures.

“When the students came up with this, I was very excited. It makes a lot of sense with what I’m doing in my research,” said Professor Anne-Laure Fayard, who serves as advisor to the OpenIDEO student creative design group that developed the idea for the Greenhouse. Fayard studies the role of space for collaboration in organizational contexts, and is already seeing the positive effect of the new Greenhouse space.

At the opening, Kuyan also announced a competition for students to develop creative entrepreneurial projects in teams, using the Greenhouse as a workspace. All teams that successfully submit their projects after 30 days and are permitted to continue work receive a funding award – it’s a competition where all competitors who turn out quality results win.

This mixture of flexibility and seriousness is essential to the Greenhouse’s ideology that already has found appeal among students and faculty alike – and is extending to the larger community as well.

“I’ve talked to a lot of other universities and businesses in the area about setting up workshops and giving talks,” said Fayard. “I think that that is what a university should be: open to the world.”