Rev: Ithaca Startup Works


Rev: Ithaca Startup Works is a business incubator located on the second and third floors of a mixed-used development in downtown Ithaca, NY. The incubator is a collaboration between Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins-Cortland Community College. It was designed to be a temporary, shared workspace for local high-growth startups; companies are intended to graduate out of the space into local real estate once they hit their team size target or revenue target.

The incubator is designed to include open/non-territorial coworkspace with a variety of seating options, a professional conference room, semi-private breakout spaces, a prototyping lab with Makerspace equipment, private phone booths, and a media room for photo and video. Because the space is intended to convene the larger regional startup community, the main open areas are designed to be flexible and convert to event space as needed.

Watch this video to see Rev in action during an event.

Phase I: Renovation

The first phase of the project involved renovating a 1928 building, including second floor renovations for Rev. My role was to advise the Rev project team on current trends and best practices for business incubators and coworkspaces; to attend and offer input during naming/branding meetings; to document brand decisions for use in the detailed program; to develop a detailed space plan and accompanying design guidelines for promoting workplace culture. I attended meetings with the developer (Travis Hyde Properties) and architect (JSA) to act as an advocate for the project team’s vision and goals, and met with the interior designer to offer input on furniture and finish selection.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation

As a part of my thesis research on four collaborative workspaces in Ithaca, NY, I developed survey measures of workplace satisfaction and shared values to determine how design features of the incubator could promote or hinder social interaction. This survey data, along with my participant observations and one-on-one interviews I personally conducted with all members and employees, was used for a post-occupancy evaluation of Rev (this poster won Best in Research category at VentureWell Open 2015). Changes were made to the space based on input from this evaluation, and the POE report was used to inform Phase II decision-making.

Phase II: New Overbuild

For this phase of the project, all tenants moved out to temporary space while five additional floors were added on to the building. My role was to act as the Rev project team’s space planning consultant, including advising them on arrangements in the temporary space. I attended all meetings with the developer and architect to continue to advocate for the project team’s vision and goals, and to document design decisions for use in the detailed program. I developed a detailed space plan and accompanying design guidelines based on the input gathered during the POE, and also advised on policies to promote the desired culture at Rev. I specified all furniture and finishes for this phase of the project, and coordinated quotes and orders with Cornell University’s preferred vendors.

Ongoing Involvement

I remain a resource to the Rev: Ithaca Startup Works team for suggestions on additional furniture and equipment, as well as policies and programming that will encourage the best use of the Rev space.


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