Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Youth Council visits Lassonde Studios

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Aspen Perry

Youth council being introduced to the Lassonde motto — Live. Create. Launch. (Joni Dahle)

On Nov. 6, the University of Utah’s coveted Lassonde Studios opened their doors to take the Holladay Youth Council on a tour of what “Architectural Digest” deemed one of the nine best new university buildings around the world. 

Although youth council member Nathan Seal did not feel the Lassonde Studio quite fits his needs, he was still impressed by what the generous donation would mean for the future.

“The thing that stood out to me in particular was the brightness of our future,” Seal said. 

The Lassonde Studio is the brainchild of Pierre Lassonde, a University of Utah MBA graduate, who, as of spring 2014, had donated $25 million to the university to help build an institute he felt would give future entrepreneurs the opportunity to be successful. 

The five-story Lassonde Studios opened in August 2016 and says it is a place where students from any major can “Live. Create. Launch.”  

As stated on, the institute provides four floors of themed residential space, capable of housing 400 residents, with dining services available to residents 24/7 and to the public until 1 a.m. There’s also a 20,000-square-foot space on the main floor dedicated to innovation where students can meet, test ideas, launch companies and learn by doing. 

“Innovation was a word that was used a lot, and the program and building really cultivated growth and development of businesses,” Seal said, regarding his experience during the youth council tour. 

Upon visiting the “launched by Lassonde” page, the innovation is clear to see and boasts hundreds of startups, some with roots in the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute program, which began in 2001, as well as successful startups that were cultivated in the studio building itself.

For youth council member Preston Palmer, hearing the success stories was the best part of the tour. 

When asked what stood out most during the tour, Palmer said, “Hearing about the success of some of the students at the Lassonde and the businesses they had created.”

The Holladay City Youth Council was created by the city manager at the time, Randy Fitts, as well as, council members Hugo Diedrich (no longer serving) and Patricia Pignanelli (serving her last term). 

“Randy suggested that Holladay youth needed opportunities to learn about government. I was interested because of my background in education,” Pignanelli said. 

From there the three met with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, in addition to other cities with youth councils, and in 2006 the first youth council met. 

“The first members established the balance between service projects and education involving all aspects of government,” Pignanelli said. 

As hoped, students involved with youth council feel their participation has helped them learn more about their community. 

“I have felt more connected with the township as we go out together,” said Seal.

When asked what he enjoyed most about his time on the youth council, Palmer expressed similar sentiments. “I have enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about their ideas on how we can learn about and help our city.” 

Additionally, Seal expressed the opportunity youth council provides in better understanding political processes. 

“I have been part of youth council for a short time, but this experience (provides) a taste of what I think I want to pursue as a career,” Seal said. 

In conjunction to the youth council providing a foundation for understanding local government process, both Seal and Palmer felt the council also served as a great opportunity to meet new friends. 

“I have met many new friends and been part of several projects, just during my first few months,” Palmer said. “I think these people and experiences will continue to help me grow as a person.” 

Whether Lassonde bound or pursuing other interests, it would appear the students involved with youth council are receiving great exposure to all their world has to offer, as well as learning how they can make a difference and give back.