Clemson Dedicates Building for Sonoco Institute
On March 31, Clemson University dedicated the Harris A. Smith Building, home to the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics, where students and researchers will study not only how packaging is designed and manufactured, but also how products will be perceived, marketed and consumed in the future.
It is the only university program in the country that will bring together packaging science, graphic communication, the materials, environmental science, manufacturing, marketing and psychology disciplines to study packaging methods, said Chip Tonkin, the institute’s director.
The institute initially will focus on four areas:
• Designing environmentally sustainable packages;
• Developing electronic films that can be printed on packages to create displays, track shipments or apply environmental or biological sensors;
• Testing the impact of package design on consumer attention, buying patterns, use and disposal in its consumer experience lab; and
• Integrating the multiple steps in package design and construction into a single workflow.
“We think in these four areas we can make a name for ourselves,” Tonkin said. “Nobody has really looked at packaging as a core competency.”
The 28,000-square-foot building is named for Harris A. Smith of Atlanta, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Smith Container Corp., founded by the Smith family in 1907. He sold the company a few years ago and saw an opportunity to create a global center for packaging innovation by investing in Clemson.
Accompanied by members of his family, Smith said, “We thank Clemson University for giving us the opportunity 102 years later to remain actively engaged in an industry that has seen three generations of family involvement.”
Smith made gifts and pledges of $3.7 million and Sonoco Products Co. of Hartsville gave $2.5 million for the construction of the building and to launch the packaging institute. Most of the money to pay for the $7 million structure was donated. Other donors gave equipment that will be used to train students and help industry partners research packaging methods, technology and design.