ZGF designed the 83,295 SF high-performance digital classroom hub to enhance active learning. Delivered using an integrated design-build approach, the building is a university-wide resource designed to catalyze collaboration and innovation and sited prominently to form a gateway at the southern edge of the campus. A network of flexible, technology-enabled learning environments connect to a central commons, which also serves as a public presentation and event space. The facility includes a variety of classroom types—formal and informal, large group, small group, individual, active, problem-based, and makers spaces—to provide choice and diversity. Due to the building’s autonomy from specific academic departments, classroom space is optimized and easily scheduled by students, faculty and staff for meetings and group work when unoccupied. The interior design strategy employs modular furniture anticipating the need for flexibility for varying degrees of group collaboration. The largest classroom—the active learning hall—is a circle-in-the-round accommodating 360 degrees of projected content, encircling faculty and enabling a pedagogy that encourages democracy, participation, and teamwork between students. Classroom spaces are supported by a Starbucks café, a variety of lounges including the digital marketplace featuring stadium style seating, makers space, a student skills development studio and tutoring spaces, a faculty innovation studio, IT help desk, and hoteling style faculty offices. This building will be LEED Silver®.
The history of the land grant university and the theme “digitizing tradition”, consistent with the building’s purpose, is conveyed throughout with environmental graphics. The town hall, central commons, and main circulation staircase feature large-scale digital representations of the university’s fight song, ringing of the victory bell, and shooting of the cougar cannon. The graphics encourage active exploration throughout the building.