In an attempt to create more opportunities for students and faculty to meet and learn informally, a prototype student lounge/learning space was designed and built in the lobby of the Art and Architecture South building.
The facility’s renovated lobby incorporates the use of local sources, including timber from Moscow Mountain and furniture made by local manufacturers. These sources were utilized and expressly visible in lobby’s wood paneling, wood floors and custom seating. The lobby/lounge also features natural lighting, information kiosks and a small library of design books and periodicals.
“I was at the University of South Florida recently where built a reading room, complete with bookcase and periodicals because it was problematic that their library was clear across campus,” said Randall Teal, professor and project director.
Incorporating the renovations into classroom instruction may also add to the student’s interest in using the space.
“Now we have a facility that has these intricate details of richness and texture that we learn about in class,” said Drew Davis, student and project leader. “Creating an informal environment where students can gather, discuss, meet with professors, or just sit and read, is of the outmost importance for our college. I’ll often walk by this space on my way to class, or a meeting with a professor and I’ll see students sitting next to one another on the unfinished benches, having conversations. It’s nice to be able to see the kind of impact it has on students, even before its completion.”
Davis is a full-time student, so budgeting his time between school and working on this project was his biggest challenge. He also found that working with contractors, electricians and cleaning crews in order to complete outsourced tasks before they could move on, was another challenge.
“We sometimes had to wait a month, or even two months before we could proceed with our portion of the project, so how we budgeted our time and how we completed our tasks was sometimes a little backward,” he said.
Davis said that the completion of the renovation was due largely in part by collaborative efforts given by his peers, faculty and local contractors. Davis, along with Ryan Erstad and Nick Hansen, were three of five students who made this project a reality.
“Each one of us brings something to the table. Using my skill set, I usually draw something on a computer, or sketch it out on a piece of paper, but those initial steps do not even come close to designing something that people can touch and feel,” Davis said. “It’s a powerful experience. You don’t know how people are going to react until you build it, and building it has been transformational.”