At the academic crossroads of campus adjacent to the Library, the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is Tech’s visible commitment to its undergraduate students. Opening at the beginning of this coming fall semester, Clough Commons offers 220,000 square feet of classrooms, labs and learning spaces that will be open 24 hours a day, almost every day of the year. With 2000 new seats in common areas and group study rooms that can be reserved in the evening and on weekends, the search for quiet and not-so quiet places to study will be a lot easier.

Clough Commons—the result of more than 10 years of planning and $85 million of private and state funding—will be the center of learning for most first-and second-year students at Tech. The building contains 41 classrooms, most with state-of-the-art technology, studios for students to practice presentations and all first-year labs in biology, physics, chemistry and environmental/atmospheric science. The variety of learning environments includes traditional and not-so-traditional classrooms, open seating areas surrounded by windows, art exhibit space, Starbucks and a roof garden complete with trees and benches. The interior colors are soothing in places and lively in others. There are more whiteboards, some mobile, than even Tech students can manage to fill with equations, and rooms that can be reconfigured to suit a particular project or teaching style.

Clough Commons is a LEED Gold building with a green roof, solar panels and other sustainability features. As part of the Clough construction project, Tech installed a cistern to improve water conservation for central campus. Tech Green and the walkways from the Library’s front door to the Student Center will be transformed into a lovely park. New sidewalks, lighting, seating and lawns will offer everyone on campus open spaces in which to congregate or even take a nap in the shade.

But Clough Commons is not just a big building with classrooms, lots of chairs and beautiful surrounding landscaping; it is designed to be an active place in which students get help with all things academic. Tutoring services for the colleges will be located there, along with undergraduate writing assistance and academic advising. The Office of Information Technology will provide computing and technology support for extended hours. The Library, which is physically connected to Clough Commons on two floors, will provide research and advising assistance at a help desk in Clough as well as the main information desk in Price Gilbert Library, which will be combined with the circulation desk and renovated this summer.

Last ov., the Library faculty and staff enthusiastically welcomed Provost Bras’ decision to integrate the Clough Commons and the Library. Many of the spaces and services planned for Clough Commons grew out of student involvement in renovating library spaces and requests for new services as the curriculum changed and the campus grew. Integrating Clough Commons and the Library is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a vibrant, academic and cultural complex at the center of campus. Tech students believe that the Library belongs to them, and they have the right and the responsibility to make it a focal point of their time at Tech. The Library’s goal is to extend that sense of ownership to the Clough Commons.

A growing list of events and activities is planned for the 2011-2012 academic year. To celebrate the opening, the Library will host tours and events to show off the useful and the inspiring spaces in Clough and highlight the services that will be available to the campus, especially to undergraduate students.

We look forward to giving the campus its first look at a new era of commitment to undergraduate students at Tech on August 20th, when the Library hosts its popular party and game night for new students, including tours of Clough Commons.