James Madison University and partners have joined together to create the Ice House, a revitalized building complex in downtown Harrisonburg that will serve as a center of collaboration and engagement for JMU students, entrepreneurs and citizens in the local community.
Formerly known as the Cassco Ice House complex, the building was constructed in 1934 for ice and cold storage to support the region’s distribution of agricultural products. Operations were discontinued in 2004 and the building was unused until the recent revitalization plans rechristened it the Ice House.
The name references both the building’s history as well as a JMU initiative called ICE, an acronym for Innovation-Collaboration-Entrepreneurship. JMU seeks to become a model of engagement that mobilizes resources from the university and community to launch new businesses and commercialize technology.
Phase one of the project is complete and JMU has occupied 30,000 of the 80,000-square-foot building with departments such as Outreach and Engagement, the Office of Technology Innovation, Communications and Marketing, the JMU Small Business Development Center, the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Lifelong Learning Institute.
The principal developers of the Ice House project are both JMU alumni and the furniture was designed and built by JMU’s Industrial Design students.
The building currently offers space available for rent that includes offices, event space, a kitchen, and classrooms and conference rooms fit with touchscreen A/V equipment and web conferencing capabilities.
Phase two of the project includes plans to make the Ice House a center of the downtown community with restaurants, a brewery, yoga studio, retail space and loft apartments.
The project is a win-win for the university and the community. Small business owners and entrepreneurs gain better access to JMU’s resources, and JMU students benefit from working on live projects with real businesses.
JMU and its programs at the Ice House are another example of how the Commonwealth’s premier colleges and universities provide real-world experience to Virginia students and innovative ways to collaborate with the local community. To learn more, click here.
A view of the open office and collaborative space at the Ice House in downtown Harrisonburg, Va. Photo courtesy of James Madison University.