Calling all open-access workshop enthusiasts (TechShop et al)

Dear Readers (all four of you),

I'm considering a graduate research project on an emerging class of shops.  In most cases, they sell access to shop space to the public.  They encourage collaborative innovation.  In the absence of shop classes in schools, they help fill the technical education gap.

So far I've found these:
3rd Ward in Brooklyn, NY (at the artistic end of the spectrum)
A2 MechShop in Ann Arbor, MI (not really open-access, more of a coworking facility)
Artifacture Labs (formerly Neighborhood Workshop) soon to open in Dallas, TX
Club Workshop in Denver
MakeIt Labs, possibly near Lowell, MA, but in a state of flux currently  
The MIT Hobby Shop in Boston (only open to MIT students)
Sparqs, formerly in Boston
TechShop, with locations in Menlo Park, CA; Durham, NC (re-opening soon); near Portland, OR (closed, moving); and in San Francisco this summer

TechShop and Club Workshop appear to be the closest to what I'm after, but they're all interesting

Are there others?

Possible research questions:
Why have previous iterations of this concept failed?
What are key success factors and best practices in this small, emerging industry?
What facility design features contribute most to the innovation process, the user experience, and the bottom line?
Where should these facilities be located?
What architectural features should be considered, e.g. lighting, electrical, ventilation?

What do you think of this as a research idea?

Love,

Ethan

2 comments:

Household said...

From one of the four . . .

What about the bike/tech shop started by a certain someone at VCU? It was a start in the right direction, and you have intimate knowledge of what worked and what didn't.

kevin said...

Consider "The Sawdust Shop" in Sunnyvale, California. It's the same basic idea as "TechShop," but optimized for wood projects. For that matter, I suspect there are a lot of woodworking establishments out there that serve a TechShop-like function, i.e. a place where the user can have access to expensive equipment, decent instructors, a collaborative community of fellow hobbyists, etc. I suspect they were originally built to fill the gap left by adult education schools when they cut back on liability-inducing activities like bandsaw 101.