The Greenhouse Celebrates a First Birthday

The weather outside was frightful but that didn’t dim the celebratory mood inside the Greenhouse on February 7. There was a skillfully frosted cake bearing birthday wishes, and some of those in attendance even sported brightly colored party hats.

“In many ways, this is a family celebration,” explained Anne Laure Fayard, an associate professor in the Department of Technology Management and Innovation, who helped spearhead the student-run space last year. “Our founders are here, and there are many new faces as well. And just as every member of a family has an important role, everyone here has played a part in making the Greenhouse a hub of creativity and collaboration.”

That creativity was apparent in the activities arrayed around the room. At a station labeled “This Is Not a Box,” piles of cardboard containers, scissors, markers, and other supplies awaited transformation. Abigail Yuskis, who is earning a master’s degree in Integrated Digital Media, was busy fashioning a teepee out of triangles she had cut out, but she interrupted that pursuit to take part in the timed “Marshmallow Challenge,” which found several teams feverishly trying to construct the tallest structure possible out of a handful of uncooked spaghetti, a marshmallow (meant to be the crowning feature), and a few bits of tape and string. The teams all cannily employed the paper bags in which the supplies had been handed to them to bolster their pieces, with the winning team constructing a (relatively) towering assemblage of 72 centimeters.

One prominent attendee did not take part in any of the challenges or activities, however: Tanuki, a plaster gnome who serves as the Greenhouse mascot, watched over the proceedings benevolently. (Tanuki was named in honor of an unusual mammal also known as the “raccoon dog,” which figures largely in Japanese mythology.) During the winter break, Tanuki “disappeared and went on a journey searching for like-minded innovators, cool projects and collaboration,” according to several students. Affixed to one wall of the Greenhouse was a map, with pins denoting the locations he visited. “I want to go everywhere Tanuki did,” one enterprising student responded on a whiteboard labeled, “What will you do after graduating?”

It was an eventful year not only for Tanuki but for the Greenhouse as a whole. Over its first 12 months, the space has become a bustling center where student designers, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs can brainstorm and grow--and there’s much more to come. “We have a lot planned. “February is Prototyping Month, for example, and we’re working hard to get great industry people to come out and speak on Founder Fridays,” said Terrence Agbi who works closely on these events with Aditya Brahmabhatt and Yuan Wang, the two Greenhouse Guardians. Aditya added, “The Greenhouse is all about culture, and we built a lot of it over the last year. In the future I see this consolidating and becoming part of the active network of students involved in the most creative and innovative activities around NYU."