Siebel Foundation Awards $25 Million to Illinois for Design Center

Siebel Foundation Awards $25 Million to Illinois for Design Center

The Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have announced a $25 million lead gift toward construction of an interdisciplinary center for design thinking and learning.

The $48 million Siebel Center for Design will facilitate and support innovative approaches to product, process, and user-interface design, with an emphasis on advanced technology, creativity, purpose, and multidisciplinary collaboration. To that end, the two-story, 60,000 square-foot building will house five team-based collaboration studios able to accommodate up to four hundred students; a large workshop for 3-D printing, metal fabrication, laser cutting, water-jet cutting, and computer-controlled machining; two digital media studios for video and audio recording as well as immersive technologies for virtual reality applications; and open gathering spaces, meeting rooms, and galleries designed to encourage more informal interaction. Construction is expected to begin next summer, with the remainder of the funding to come from institutional funds.

The center, which will focus primarily on instruction and secondarily on research, also will help innovate undergraduate and graduate curricula in multiple colleges at the university, said UI interim provost Edward Feser, incorporating design principles, concepts, and practices into their respective offerings.

Siebel Foundation founder and chair Thomas M. Siebel earned a bachelor's degree in history ('75), a master's in business administration ('83), and a master's in computer science ('85) from the university. He was the founder, chair, and CEO of Siebel Systems, which merged with Oracle Corporation in 2006.

"The combination of top-tier academics and entrepreneurial drive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is powerful," said Siebel, now chair and CEO of C3 IoT. "By infusing all areas of study with the multidisciplinary approaches of design thinking, this facility will create unlimited opportunities for the students to fuel and nurture that drive."