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Blog . Interactive Media Lab update


Interactive Media Lab update

07/12/22  |  Posted by Kathryn Heidemann  |  Posted in President

Students, Faculty and Staff:

I hope you all read the exciting news regarding CIA’s Interactive Media Lab published Monday on If not, please read Steve Litt’s article about the Cleveland Foundation’s MidTown Collaboration Center. The article notes that the IML will serve as a prominent anchor for the center at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 66th Street, and that the center will be part of larger, 12-acre innovation district in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood.

The Interactive Media Lab has been a goal at CIA since 2019 and is a key action item within our 2020–25 Strategic Plan. For those unfamiliar, the IML will combine CIA’s academic program and an incubator that builds business capacity using augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence within the context of arts and design. It will feature a state-of-the-art AR/VR/AI production studio used by students and startups, and it will serve as a hub for artist- and designer-driven content, discourse and development.

In light of Monday’s article, I’m pleased to share that the IML will occupy a two-story, approximately 13,000-square-foot corner space—which means it’ll be highly visible to the community as well as commuters along the heavily trafficked Euclid Avenue corridor. Classrooms, demonstration rooms, a demonstration theater, offices and an exhibition space are all in the plans, and the IML is expected to be ready to open during spring semester in 2025.

It’s important to note that due to its location, the IML’s impact will be even larger than its educational and technological offerings. Among our new neighbors in the MidTown Collaboration Center will be Hyland Software, JumpStart and Assembly for the Arts, and we’ll be joined by familiar neighbors like University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University.

In other words, CIA students, faculty and staff will find themselves at Cleveland’s new intersection of innovation, where creativity, entrepreneurship, technology, business, and health care coalesce. This is an outstanding opportunity to harness, and no one is better positioned than CIA to fuel this process with creativity—a necessary ingredient for any successful innovation district.

Its location also expands our College’s footprint within the city. The Cleveland Foundation’s entire development will serve as a community resource and partner with community-led revitalization efforts in the Hough neighborhood. We at CIA are proud to be a part of that effort, and we expect doors will be opened to new opportunities for students in Engaged Practice, community projects and sponsored project courses—cornerstones of learning at CIA.

Simply put, between the institutional collaborations and expanded presence the IML will bring, this is potentially one of the most important and transformative community-engagement initiatives in CIA’s history. The Cleveland Foundation reports that its innovation district will be part of a global network of innovation district plans, and that Cleveland will be one of only eight cities in the world to be home to such a district. That our IML is part of that is significant.

Practically speaking, what do Monday’s developments mean for us at CIA? They signal that we’re beginning to move out of the “dream phase” for the IML and into the operational phase. Among our next steps will be reviewing curricular alignment, enrollment strategy, community engagement, and human resources and facilities infrastructure. Looking ahead, we plan to host a series of information sessions, including collaborative sessions with key stakeholders. The programming and design of the space will be informed by these sessions.

Lastly, I want to thank faculty members Jared Bendis and Dan Cuffaro, who have helped lead the IML conversation and its associated benchmarking, analysis and research—and will continue to do so with a larger group of faculty as planning moves forward. I also want to acknowledge the contributions of faculty members Steven Gutierrez, Tom Nowacki and Anthony Scalmato, who were involved early in the process. Further, I want to welcome Matthew McKenna, recently named Associate Vice President of Information Systems and Technology, to the process. He will serve as the staff liaison and project manager for the development, implementation and operations of the IML. The support of our Board of Directors, particularly the Innovation + Technology Committee, has also been crucial—and will continue to be as the IML takes shape.

As more specific details come into focus, I’ll be happy to share them. Until then, please join me in celebrating these exciting next steps for the Interactive Media Lab. We fully expect the IML to catalyze CIA’s future as an agent of change in Cleveland, and through the lens of design and creativity, further establish us as a driving force in the city’s economy.

Kathryn Heidemann
President + CEO

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