Classroom of the future at CSU?

The days of sitting in class in neatly organized rows, staring at the front of the room may soon go the way of bellbottom pants.

A cutting edge lab space nestled in Aylesworth Hall will be completed at the end of the semester for interior design students at CSU, marking an end to a semester of being moved from classroom to classroom and years spent using outdated equipment.

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The new space is a “prototype” for new classroom environments, said Katharine Leigh, an interior design professor in the department of design and merchandising

“We haven’t had renovations in here for over 35 years,” Leigh said. “Once this is completed there won’t be anything else like it at CSU.”

Leigh said the renovation is being paid for with $385,000 from the University Facility Fee Advisory Board (UFFAB) –– a student group which votes to fund construction projects –– which comes out to about $14.50 per student.

CSU students pay $15 dollars per-credit hour in facility fees –– a minimum of $60 a semester –– to UFFAB.

About $15,000 came from the Dean of Applied Sciences.

It took two proposals before UFFAB approved the renovations.

“The first time they came to us, we felt that initial project wouldn’t serve that many people and it would only benefit a select few,” said UFFAB President Vincent Crespin. “The second proposal satisfied our criteria that it would serve more people.”

Junior interior design major Erika Sanchez said the old space wasn’t very inspiring, something that’s vital for design students. She’s looking forward for the renovations to be completed and getting out of the cramped classrooms students have been using this semester.

“I like being able to spread my paperwork out to do my work,” Sanchez said. “In the classrooms right now you can’t even fit a water bottle and piece of paper on the desk.”

The interior design department hopes this won’t be the case after the renovations.

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The new design layout bears little resemblance to a traditional classroom. The space, a research collaboration with furniture retailer Herman Miller,  is designed to increase creativity and collaboration among students.

The 2,500 square foot space, scheduled for completion in December, will boast a design lab, team work area and conference area or “chat box.”

The different sections, separated by transparent screens, will allow students to see what’s going on in adjacent work areas. Tables and seating are on casters, meaning the entire space can be opened to accommodate up to 90 people for a lecture.

Instead of standard classroom seating, students are organized in clusters with the layout encouraging group work and interaction with other students.

Student can be wired into two 60-inch LCD screens in the central area, allowing them to share projects with classmates.

“That’s part of the collaboration, to look across and compare and say ‘oh, what are you doing on that, what’s your solution?’” Leigh said.

She added the sleek, contemporary furniture and new technology will mimic what could be found in any modern design office, allowing students to get a feel for working in the profession.

In addition to new furniture and technology, security and service features will be added to the space as well. This includes key card entry and a café.

“Everybody’s excited about the café,” Leigh said. “Right now, if students want a cup of coffee they have to trudge over to the student center.”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.