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Published 01/06/17

Bryant University's award-winning Academic Innovation Center. Photo credit: Anton Grassl, ESTO Photography

Academic Innovation Center takes national Grand Prize for design

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant University’s Academic Innovation Center (AIC), which opened to rave reviews by students and faculty in September 2016, has been awarded the national Grand Prize for outstanding design and architecture in the College Planning and Management (CP&M) 17th Annual Education Design Showcase.

“Bryant’s Academic Innovation Center is a facility that redefines the future of teaching and learning in higher education.” 

“Good designs don’t just happen,” said CP&M editors. “They are based on exhaustive research and the study of best practices.”

“Bryant’s Academic Innovation Center is a facility that redefines the future of teaching and learning in higher education,” said Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley, in his 21st year at Bryant. “It is the result of a five-year innovative research-and-design-thinking process, and we are proud to see it receive this recognition.”

The 48,000-square-foot AIC is an entirely new kind of facility for teaching and learning. Designed by architects of EYP Architecture and Engineering, the building serves as a learning lab to reimagine the optimal environment teaching. Gone are the rows of seats and lecture dais that have served higher education for centuries. Instead, flexible spaces and a light-filled Innovation Forum within the AIC are designed for a wide variety of innovative teaching and learning styles, developing leadership and design thinking skills through real-world simulations, rapid prototyping, social entrepreneurship and service learning projects, flipped class delivery, group work, and more.

A committee of faculty members advised on the project. Bryant University, the Faculty Building Committee, and EYP Architecture and Engineering share this award with the full AIC project team including, Jacobs Engineering Group, Joe Casali Engineering, Sasaki Engineering, and Bond Construction. The project broke ground in May 2015 and was completed just 16 months later for the first day of classes on Sept. 6 — on time and under budget.

“This prestigious award is a testament to Bryant's dedicated leadership and team of faculty, designers, engineers, and builders,” said Provost Glenn Sulmasy. “This trailblazing space sets the standard for educating and preparing successful, innovative leaders for generations to come.”

College Planning & Management is a leading publication for higher education’s top-level executive leadership and decision makers in facilities, security, technology, and business. The publication established the Showcase in 1999 as a vehicle for sharing innovative, yet practical, solutions in planning, design, and construction.

Judging criteria for the Education Design Showcase included design, innovation, originality, creative solutions, sustainability, materials, visual aesthetics, and cost effectiveness. Bryant’s Academic Innovation Center stood out among impressive entries from Franklin Marshall College, University of Michigan, and University of Tennessee.


Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., is a leading private university offering an innovative and uniquely integrated business and liberal arts education. The University's 3,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students study in an intensive and immersive learning environment that has been purpose-built for high achievement. Bryant’s groundbreaking academic programs have been nationally recognized by organizations including the Davis Educational Foundation and Hanover Research. Founded in 1863, Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, College Factual/U.S.A. Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and Barron’s