State-of-the-art spaces: Wood lab, Nancy Richardson Design Center

In our State-of-the-Art Spaces series, we’ll show you academic spaces all over campus that boast unique features and technology that enhance learning, allow students to engage in hands-on experiences, and more. Get an inside look at Colorado State’s state-of-the-art spaces now.

Within Colorado State’s Nancy Richardson Design Center, a building dedicated to collaborative creative learning, you’ll find the Wood Lab, a large area with ample space, natural light, and woodworking tools and machinery. Within the wood lab, you’ll find several sections, each featuring different groups of technology, including a slew of the latest woodworking equipment, from standard tools and machines to advanced technology for specialty projects.

The General Wood Lab features jet planers, saws and drills, oscillating sanders, and band saws. The Specialty Wood Lab has lathes, table routers and sand blasters, along with a plethora of hand tools for detail work. There’s also a CNC router, or computer numerical control router, which is a computer-controlled cutting machine that allows students to transform highly detailed art pieces into wooden pieces that have depth and texture but lose none of the original detailing. This kind of machine can be used to make signage and other pieces, but requires more training and operates on a schedule for use.

Some of the projects students have completed within the wood lab include a large, carved wooden CSU Ram’s head, a functional weaving loom, chairs and tables, customized furniture for a van, desks, shelving, and even lighting fixtures designed by students in the Interior Architecture and Design major.

While any student can use the lab, there are some classes that learn primarily in the lab, including Foundations of Wood, Advanced Woodworking, and Design Thinking Collaborative, where students from various majors collaborate to create a tiny house on a trailer for someone in need. Construction Management classes are often found in the lab for their various class projects, and Apparel Design and Merchandising students use the lab to custom build their stage for the annual fashion show.

One of the most-unique features of the Wood Lab is that it’s one of the only labs on campus that is not exclusively tied to a particular department. While it is partly used for class support, it is open for any lab member to use for class work, exploration, research, or independent business ventures.

  • Who studies here: Students who participate in the design center’s Design Thinking coursework have access to the lab, as well as students within the department of Design and Merchandising. The lab is also open to any Colorado State student by purchasing a semester lab pass. There may be some training required in order to operate the machinery for students new to the design center.
  • Built: January 2019
  • Location: South campus, near the CSU Stadium. See map.

Want to see more spaces?

Get an insider view on spaces like our biology building, mechanical engineering lab, finance data lab, and more.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.