Strang was commissioned by the Rapid City Economic Development Foundation (Elevate Rapid City) to design a feasibility study and master plan for the Ascent Innovation District. Based on the master plan and Strang’s experience in business incubators and innovation centers, Elevate Rapid City continued working with Strang to design the D-LAB at the Ascent Innovation Campus, a 40,000 SF business incubator that includes flexible tenant and office space.
The project was designed to serve as a stimulant for the development of the Ascent Innovation Campus, while strategically connecting the School of Mines with downtown Rapid City. It also plays an important role in workforce development and the retention of talent for the Rapid City community. The goal of the D-LAB was to design more than just a space to work. It was to create an invitation to join a community of small business owners, entrepreneurs, students, freelancers, and city residents dedicated to bringing their ideas to life in Rapid City. Rapid City is on the cusp of a major renaissance, and the D-LAB is more than just a building, it’s an engine for economic development and a catalyst for transformation.
Fostering Innovation, Flourishing Collaboration
The D-LAB facility itself is a catalyst for fostering innovation, collaboration, and the flourishing of new ideas. It is about harnessing the human spirit. In addition to the 25,000 SF of flexible tenant space and administrative offices, the facility provides spaces for collaboration, meetings, and events. These spaces foster the co-creation of ideas and community togetherness.
As a multi-tenant building, the D-LAB is designed with flexibility for future uses, and the ability to accommodate the ebb and flow of space needs as each tenant grows and evolves. The building is designed to allow each tenant the ability to retain and express their unique identity.
"Strang has delivered straight out of the gate and it has been very comforting that we have a qualified and dedicated team bringing innovative ideas and techniques to Rapid City…In summary, it is my belief that any organization would be fortunate to have Strang, Inc. as a part of their project."
Terri Haverly, Executive Director, Ascent Innovation
We designed the D-LAB facility from the ground up around a proven structural bay module that easily accommodates uses ranging from private offices to high-performing wet labs. All tenant spaces are designed as column-free spaces further enhancing the flexibility to subdivide these spaces as needed. Recognizing that designing for infinite flexibility means infinite cost, our experience with this building type helped us define a balance point between flexibility and cost. With this, we were able to define a reasonable baseline for performance, and recommendations to supplement these systems in the future as needed.
Strang’s work in Rapid City began by collaborating closely with local business development groups to identify the most appropriate sites for an innovation district. We did this by identifying areas that would be able to support continued growth for many decades. Based on the recommendations of this study, we identified the area between the School of Mines and Downtown Rapid City as the ideal location to realize this untapped potential. We met with established local business leaders to understand their dream for the future of Rapid City, but, just as importantly, we met with students at the South Dakota School of Mines and current tenants of the existing Ascent Innovation incubator to understand their specific needs as the next wave of innovation in Rapid City.
Strang developed a deep understanding of local Black Hills culture with this hands-on approach, consistently seeking local input on all aspects of the project. The result is a high-profile design that embraces the client’s vision of innovation and development.
The D-LAB’s location in an underutilized urban area also went a long way to achieving sustainability goals for the client. Sustainable site and landscape design strategies of the D-LAB include on-site stormwater management basins that are integrated with native plantings. The building massing is oriented in an east-west direction to maximize the benefits of solar orientation. Horizontal sunshades on the south facade and vertical sunshades on the west and east provide cool daylighting into the interior of the building.