mHUB Innovation Center – Chicago

Gensler designed and revitalized mHUB in Chicago, combining historic elements with modern technology to create a collaborative innovation center for manufacturing, focusing on efficiency and creativity in the process.

  • Client mHUB,
  • size 80,000 sqft
  • Year 2023
  • Location Chicago, Illinois, United States,
  • Industry Manufacturing,
  • mHUB is the nation’s leading hardtech and manufacturing innovation center. The nonprofit organization offers membership options, runs accelerator programs, and provides research and development services to ensure the manufacturing industry continues to accelerate, grow, and thrive. Since opening in 2017, the mHUB community has launched more than 1,500 products and hired more than 5,100 employees.

    The mHUB facility, located in Chicago, is home to labs for prototyping and manufacturing including a 3D printer lab, cold metals lab, electronics lab, finishing lab, hot metals lab, laser cutting lab, plastics lab, testing lab, textiles lab, water work lab, and woodworking lab.

    Situated within the Kinzie Corridor, mHUB’s new location, a 1926 manufacturing plant that had been vacant for years, bridges the gap between the manufacturing district and the vibrant Fulton Market. The design celebrates the original elements of the historic structure, including exposed brick and columns, with the tools and technology needed to support product innovation. On the exterior, the illumination of columns and the iconic clocktower highlight the building’s place as a beacon in the crux of two neighborhoods.

    Gensler’s team conducted several workshop sessions with mHUB members and staff to ensure the design plan aligned with their needs to work efficiently and creatively. As a result, the design focuses on five aspects of the manufacturing process: ideate, iterate, showcase, assemble, and celebrate. The hyper-resourced environment includes workstations and offices for ideation; shops and labs for prototyping and iteration; and a flexible assembly space, visible from the reception area, for the final stages of the process, with integrated conference rooms for investor meetings. A display wall showcases finished products and a 5,000-square-foot event space hosts ongoing programming and celebrations.

    mHUB members collaborated with Gensler on the branding, fabrication, and coordination of the Spark spaces, the reception desk, the Members’ Wall, and the bar in the event space. Not only did this engage mHUB members in the design process, but it also provided money-saving, high-impact design solutions.

    A new vestibule at the back of the building leads visitors into mHUB’s active first floor where all the shops, labs, and training rooms are located. Placing these dynamic areas on the ground floor allows mHUB to easily conduct tours with those interested in the facilities. This approach also fosters the extension of Fulton Market’s energy into the building, but instead of tangible goods being sold, ideas and knowledge are exchanged.

    On the second and third floors, the design vertically extended the Fulton Street axis, situating all collaboration spaces in the middle of the floor plate to facilitate meetings and teamwork. Recognizing that manufacturing is a dynamic process, the design avoided defining spaces with unnecessary walls, allowing mHUB future flexibility to grow and evolve as its members actively shape the next wave of Chicago manufacturing.

    Design: Gensler
    Design Team: Todd Heiser, Meghan Webster, Eric Gannon, Shane Mathewson, Hayden Wu, Maggie Marlin, Anna Nelson, Renee Prusacki, Scott Hurst, Ryan DePersia
    Contractor: Executive Construction, Inc.
    MEP: Syska Hennessy Group
    Photography: Christopher Barrett, Design by Gensler