As technology has transformed higher education, so has how we accommodate those changes. Technology makes learning mobile and makes students active participants in their education, engaging and collaborating with one another, in both small and large groups, in and out of the classroom. Their tools are at their fingertips. Now the classroom is portable. As a result high education is addressing these needs.
Knoll Office facilitated the University of Portland Oregon’s project of modernizing its Clark Library. “We needed to create a fresh environment that would attract 19-23-year-olds to the library,” said Dan Danielson of Soderstrom Architects, of Portland.
“Serving the digital natives of Generation Y on college campuses requires not only state-of-the-art technology, but also an environment that supports the highly collaborative way students work and learn today. At the University of Portland, administrators and library staff sought to create such a space to replace an existing mid-century library that no longer serviced today’s students,” cited Knoll’s case study.
Technology is at the forefront of the evolving needs of education, inspiring a mobile and dynamic learning environment that embraces creativity and collaboration. To bring Clark Library up to date, Knoll focused not only on technology, but also on creating collaborative spaces.
“We knew technology would be the heart of the library,” said Harrington. Moreover, improved connectivity was the driver planners assumed would build traffic.
Although the building’s technology infrastructure had been updated through the years, the furniture had not necessarily kept up, explained Erika Dehle, Interior Designer at Soderstrom Architects. A shortage of power outlets resulted in a dangerous and unsightly collection of endless cords across floors.”
They had cables, cords, tracks, Velcro,” Dehle said. Hampered by low ceilings that made burying cables in raised floors impossible, planners needed to find another solution.
Equal to technology requirements was an acute need for spaces where students could learn collaboratively in a way that did not exist when the original library was built. “Collaboration was really central to what we wanted to do,” said Harrington.
From a cultural perspective, planners sought to enhance the facilities to encourage non-academic usage. “They wanted students to use it as a place where they would feel comfortable meeting, studying or whatever,” explained Gina Zaharie, Knoll Sales Representative. “While the physical piece was important, they really wanted that attraction piece to create a place to hang out.”
“Clark Library went from an old traditional library with limited technical capability to a modern facility providing dynamic, interchangeable power, data, storage capacity and display capabilities,” summarized Corrado.
“My favorite part is going into the library and seeing it being used the way it is: a warm, inviting space,” said University Operations VP Ravelli. “It’s really night and day with our old space. The space has moved from a 1960s version of a library with mostly books and not much study space, full of dark wood and low energy to one that is high energy, vibrant with almost a “buzz” when you walk in there. Students no longer have to go to the library. They want to go because it’s the place to be. We’re pretty thrilled.”
Case Study information provided by Knoll.