A new Creativity and Innovation District (CID) is coming to Virginia Tech in the 2021 – 22 school year, and will be located on the eastern edge of campus. Its goal is to “cultivate a community of creation and innovation” and will take advantage of the surrounding facilities as part of the district, such as the Moss Arts Center, Newman Library and the Media Building.
A cornerstone of CID is the newest residence hall, which will house 596 beds and three Living-Learning Communities (LLCs): Studio72, Innovate and the newest addition, Rhizome. Rhizome is a new LLC that places an emphasis on project-based learning and is a community that analyzes the roles of art, design, construction and other components in shaping both built and natural environments.
LLCs at Virginia Tech have been shown to have numerous advantages for students, including higher GPAs and less conduct referrals than their non-LLC peers.
“The benefit of joining an LLC your freshman year is that you are immediately hooked into a group of students who are like minded or have a similar interest as you, which is super beneficial in terms of finding friends and making connections,” said Alexander Ismael, a rising junior and senior resident advisor for CID. “It’s a pretty surefire way to ensure that you have a group from the start.”
Previously existing LLCs will be in new surroundings as well, as both Innovate and Studio72 are relocating from other residential buildings to CID, affording them access to new resources like a performing and visual arts studio space and increased community size.
Tim Baird is the appointed faculty principal for CID, and will be living with his wife and three children in the building with students. He says it is valuable for students to reside in a building with a faculty member and observe how they live in a more casual setting.
“One of the things that we know about undergraduates’ learning experience is that they are improved through informal interaction with faculty,” Baird said. “It’s one thing to be in class with faculty, it could be a giant class where the faculty don't engage individually with students, it could even be a small class where faculty and students interact very closely, but there’s something even more beneficial about just hanging out, students and faculty, that supports students’ learning experiences.”
One specific way that Baird plans to get to know students in CID is through different traditions, such as hosting gatherings in his apartment where guest speakers will talk about various topics and even sharing weekly meals.
“(There are) three other residential colleges on campus — three other apartments where faculty live in the building — and this will be the fourth,” Baird said. “Each of those other faculty have the tradition of a talk once a week. The other tradition is a meal, so on Mondays my family and I will go to D2 and have a big space reserved, and any students who want to come and hang out with me and my wife and our three kids can come be with us and share a meal.”
In addition to the students that are members of the three LLCs, student athletes will also be taking up residence in CID, making the community even more diverse. Baird plans to work to encourage different groups of students to interact with each other instead of staying separate.
“When they (interact), maybe they’ll make some great new friends, maybe they’ll discover some things that they’re really interested in and maybe some creative ideas will grow,” Baird said.