On college campuses across the country, student success is increasingly focused on balancing the power of collaboration—both interpersonal and digital—with the individual “heads-down” time necessary for research and reflection. It’s the balance between these distinct modes of learning that allow students to learn deeply, develop critical skills, and push their ideas further.
Successful spaces across college campuses are responding in ways that allow students, faculty, industry, and entire communities to interact and innovate more meaningfully. This experience and exposure helps prepare students for future success in the modern tech-driven economy.
Two university innovation centers designed by ZGF demonstrate how digital collaboration, dynamic learning and maker spaces, and closer connections to the professional world create a vibrant and multidisciplinary environment suited for tomorrow’s leaders. The Spark Academic Innovation Hub at Washington State University and Norm Asbjornson Hall at Montana State University each uniquely respond to their campus contexts and the ways students learn. Flexibility and choice, connect-anywhere capability, and technology-infused spaces seek to enhance students’ learning experiences.
Four key elements in both facilities ensure student success before and after graduation:
1. Digital Collaboration
‘Plug & play’ options and easy-to-access connectivity weave throughout formal and informal learning spaces and allow students and faculty to access information wherever they are in the building.
Both facilities contain circle-in-the-round digital classrooms that provide students with 360 degrees of projected content encircling faculty. This design encourages collaboration and exploration by enabling a pedagogy based on faculty as facilitator of learning rather than imparter of knowledge. Check out what Washington State faculty are saying about The SPARK’s circle-in-the-round classroom.
2. Responding to the World with Flexibility and Choice
Design strategies in both facilities respond to how students learn and how to best prepare students for the world of work after graduation. A diverse network of spaces support both interaction among users and the ongoing implementation of cutting-edge teaching pedagogies. These formal and informal spaces include maker spaces, event centers, active learning classrooms, skills studios and media labs, faculty hoteling offices, exhibit spaces, and more.
Modular interior design strategies leverage moveable furniture to accommodate the need for flexibility for varying degrees of individual and group collaboration. Anticipating future uses with flexible infrastructure accommodates the rapid pace of technology changes and ensures that the buildings will remain relevant for decades to come.
3. Access for All
Building program strategies and design solutions encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration and projects. Offering access to all graduate and undergraduate students increases cross-pollination and knowledge sharing.
Uniquely, Norm Asbjornson Hall is a new gateway to the Montana State campus that is anchored in the College of Engineering departments and the Honors College and will simultaneously serve as a destination for visitors and members of the public and promote entrepreneurial endeavors across a variety of student disciplines and professional industry partners.
4. Mission and Brand
The significance of WSU’s history is illustrated as part of the SPARK’s environmental graphics program through the theme of Digitizing Traditions. The building’s central commons and main circulation staircase feature large-scale, digital representations of the fight song, the ringing of the Victory Bell, and the shooting of the Cougar Cannon. The graphics encourage active exploration of WSU tradition and history with the modern use of data-driven computational design technology.
The engineering ethos at Norm Asbjornson Hall is foremost realized in the 17 hands-on labs and maker spaces throughout the building. Further supporting the culture are graphic dashboards of the building’s mechanical system and transpired solar collectors—truly putting science and engineering on display.
A little more about the projects:
The SPARK Academic Innovation Hub | Washington State University | Pullman, Washington
The 83,330-square-foot facility positions the University to attract top students and faculty, accommodate population growth, and address the tremendous advances that have been made in understanding the way students learn and the best ways for faculty to respond to student needs. The building is a network of dynamic and flexible learning environments and embodies WSU’s mission to attract and educate new generations of students, helping them succeed in the tech economy through interdisciplinary engagement and active learning.
Nature and the building’s orientation, material, and craft develop a sense of specificity and place while the configuration of spaces within allow for the flexibility of changing technology and people’s responses to it. A central commons, which can also serve as a public presentation and event space, links to more formal learning spaces and encourages both planned collaboration and the serendipitous collision of ideas.
Norm Asbjornson Hall | Montana State University | Bozeman, Montana
Scheduled to open to students in early 2019, the 116,709-square-foot facility promotes interdisciplinary engagement, meaningful student-faculty interaction and innovation that responds to and anticipates emerging trends in education, industry, and society by integrating classrooms and informal learning spaces with hands-on workshop and laboratory facilities to encourage active learning and collaboration. Learn more about the project’s origins.
Comprised of two wings and organized around a central atrium space—the Innovation Commons—this highly transparent facility encourages the discovery of shared interests and talents among students and faculty. On one side of the building, highly flexible classroom and seminar spaces neighbor the offices of the Dean of the College of Engineering and the University’s Honors College. The second wing features a collection of state-of-the-art maker spaces, which integrate laboratory, classroom, workshop, and collaboration facilities to support a culture of innovation and active learning pedagogies.