Renovations begin on new home for think[box]

Case Western Reserve’s think[ box ] project has always been a little different. From its lower-case name to its basement “startup” space, the innovation hub has consistently defied convention as it sought to become a full-sized reality.

Little wonder, then, that when it came time for construction to start, the kickoff was anything but a traditional groundbreaking with hard hats and shovels. Instead university leaders and the project’s leading supporters each flipped a large switch Thursday night, sending a video version of a think[ box ] rocket toward the sky—complete with rumbling engines and actual plumes of smoke filling the tent on Toby’s Plaza.

thinkbox launch
President Barbara R. Snyder and project supporters flipped switches to launch the renovations on the new home for think[box].
Renovation work begins this fall on the first phase of the seven-story, 55,000-square-foot space that will house think[ box ], with plans for that initial portion to be completed within a year. Located in a storage structure located on the southwest edge of campus, think[ box ] will feature large workshop spaces, meeting rooms, and even offices for entrepreneurial advisers.

To date, President Barbara R. Snyder said Thursday night, think[ box ] supporters have contributed more than $25 million. Among those present during the formal celebration were:

  • Alumni Larry and Sally Sears, who committed $5 million;
  • Alumnus Barry Romich, who initially committed $1 million and then doubled his commitment this summer;
  • Alumna Gini Barbato, representing the Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund;
  • Invacare Chairman Mal Mixon and alumnus and President of Invacare Technologies J.B. Richey, who together committed $5 million to name the building
  • State Sen. Tom Patton and Lorain County Community College President Roy Church, whose support and collaboration helped the university secure $1 million from the State of Ohio.

President Snyder also cited two other significant supporters unable to attend Thursday’s celebration. For example, she said, alumnus James Wyant had announced a $3 million commitment to the project last week during the dedication of the Wyant Wellness and Athletic Center. In addition, she noted, 1943 chemical engineering graduate Cloud Cray had pledged $2 million to the project.

“He recognizes the importance of think[ box ] to our students and the broader economy,” President Snyder said, “… and we could not be more grateful.”