ADVENTURES IN SPACE DESIGN
EDUCAUSE ELI WEB SEMINAR
APRIL 10, 2006
The topic of this seminar is the redesign and management of the physical space in Emory University’s Cox (COX CABLE COMPANY) Hall to support student learning thru technology. Alan Cattier and Kim Braxton were the presenters from Emory University. (http://www.educause.edu/eliweb064).
Cox Hall was built in 1991 as a 7500 sq/ft student computer lab with 80 workstations, no classrooms and was student staffed. The initial culture saw the space as a facility with one person, one computer with a small screen in a small cubicle. The philosophy was to cram as many students and computers as possible into the space. Late night gamers were the largest group of students using the facility and it wasn’t kept in good repair.
In March, 2002 a new philosophy was developed that looked at the space as a collaborative computing environment instead of a facility. The goals were:
1. Serve as a point of contact between the Faculty and Students
2. Bridge curricular and co-curricular(gaming) needs
3. Link classrooms and dorms
4. Raise their academic profile
5. Allow different kinds of collaboration (10 minutes or two week timeframes)
The timeline, beginning in March, had construction set for beginning June, 2002 and completion set for November, 2002. These goals were accomplished but there was not mention of the cost.
There were a number of aspects they considered in the new design. They felt that they needed to know who the players are. Also, they defined collaboration as:
“People with different skills coming together to build something better than could be done individually.”
Next, they asked for the Library’s help with space design and they hired an outside architect. They looked at various classroom technologies and came to the conclusion that they wanted to create an environment that the people using it could feel good about. They established a dialog with students and faculty. They sent out surveys to students allowing them to comment on how they wanted their student fees to be used in this project. Also, their Campus Design studio helped make final decisions on furniture, colors and lighting. Wendy Maruyama in our Studio Art Design program would be our equivalent person to involve.
They decided on creating a warm industrial vibe. The furniture should be fun, functional and comfortable. It must fit a live – work – play environment. Also a little bit of folly can create a positive energy in a space. Controlling noise was also an issue. A Starbucks Café was part of the original plan but got cut due to cost. This turned out to be a benefit because they came to the conclusion that commercial space detracts from academic space. Also, as an aside, a food court already exists outside the building.
The plan that came together provided:
1. 20 PC workstations with wide screens, flatbed scanners, MS Office, Adobe Photoshop and web page creation tools. Also, laptops can be checked out and wireless access is available.
2. A fishbowl conference room that is open to the students
3. Classrooms that are built into the space with Smart Boards, fully functional across discipline classes, have 60 inch plasma TVs and are available for student use. The two classrooms hold 15 people each.
4. A gallery area for student art.
5. A MAC bar and MAC pods with IMAC G5s. The tables are lowered so students can sit on cushions on the floor.
6. Print station area
7. Plasma poles with 60 inch TVs
8. Wood floors with rugs under desks. The flooring , wall colors and lighting (halogen, soft florescence, and regular florescence) were chosen to create a fused, soft, comfortable environment.
9. Furniture with wheels were chosen to allow students to design their immediate workspace. Flexible furniture, wiring with cable ties and table instead of table wire management were required because they get rearranged every day.
10. Chairs were chosen that were dubbed ½ hour stools. They were comfortable but not for long periods of time.
11. Whiteboards on wheels are supplied to encourage collaboration and flexibility.
12. A coffee machine is provided which charges 50 cents a cup.
The following operational information came to light once the new environment went live:
1. Beeping turnstiles were annoying.
2. Food rules were tried and dropped because rules constrain behavior and are not conducive to creative collaboration. The only sign left is: “Don’t eat over the keyboard.”
3. It is important to build a relationship with the student assistants. Energy of the manager goes out to others thus making the new lab environment a relationship not a facility.
4. Meeting Maker is used to schedule classroom and fishbowl conference room use.
5. Music is sometimes provided by a jazz ensemble in the Art Gallery area.
6. Need to provide cleaning supplies. Students do the cleaning of furniture and equipment. This approach transmits a sense of ownership to keep it clean.
7. Sleeping people indicate an acceptance of the space/environment created.
8. There are two Full-Time Employees, one shared LAN Engineer, and 20 student assistants helping in the environment.
9. Usage is about a 1000 students per day.
In conclusion a lot of good information was crammed into an hour’s time. We might consider creating a similar environment-based space in the Library.