Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney
A technology- and innovation-based student housing option, UNM’s newest student living option is scheduled to open its doors to residents this month.
After three years of planning and construction, Lobo Rainforest is now only days away from completion. The new off-campus student housing is located downtown at the corner of Central Avenue NE and Broadway Avenue NE and is open to Innovation Academy Scholars, UNM upperclassmen and returning UNM residents.
“(Lobo Rainforest) has been in the works for a number of years now,” said Lisa Kuuttila, president and CEO of Supporting Technology Transfer and Catalyzing Development at UNM. “It was originated by our president, Bob Frank, at the time who had a vision that we could take our entrepreneurial ecosystem to the next level.”
UNM partnered with the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, the local business community and the state of New Mexico to develop the concept of Innovate ABQ.
“I think it is critical for a university to be involved in this kind of project,” Kuuttila said. “The university is the source of students who can form businesses and be employees for businesses, and it also has a research capacity that results in new ideas, new patentable inventions, that are the basis of startups.”
UNM has played a role in the formation of more than 115 companies in the last ten years.
“(Students) are working for someone half time, and then they’re doing their own sort of side-hustle elsewhere, which is really attractive to students now so we really think that will resonate with them,” said Rob DelCampo, executive director for the Innovation Academy.
A “human ecosystem where creativity, business expertise, scientific discovery, investment capital and other elements come together in an environment that nurtures budding ideas,” the development will host several organizations on its first floor, including an Air Force technology station and offices contracted through Sandia National Laboratories.
Kyle Guin, a venture student at STC, is looking to live at Lobo Rainforest this fall.
“Living above the people who motivate me most and where I can get all my work done is really what drew me here,” Guin said. “On top of just being next to Air Force research labs and Innovation Academy, there’s just a ton of people with similar mindsets all in the same space that will really just motivate; I think some great stuff is gonna come out of here because of that.”
Guin started his own business through STC at UNM, and the app he designed launches this month.
“I know it sounds kind of dark and scary, but there is going to be no difference between work and home, which kind of sucks, but you’re going to be able to get so much done,” he said.
The building’s main floor also holds two classrooms, both with a 27-student capacity.
All the units in the apartment are two-bedroom, two-bathroom living spaces with a living area and full kitchen.
Students living at Lobo Rainforest will also be able to use the ART system once it is completed.