After about ten years of planning, the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is finally going to be built. Actual construction will start this fall, and Tech administrators and planners hope the Commons will be completed by Fall 2010.
The building will be located next to the library in the place of the old textiles building and parking lot next to Skiles. Not only will the building be located near the library, but also the two will be connected as one similarly purposed learning space.
“The building will be the academic counterpart to the Student Center. It should be a place where students can go to have all their academic needs fulfilled.… Not only will resources be available to students there, but it should push learning to new heights,” said Brandon Kearse, chair of the student committee that is helping with the plans for the building.
Inside the building, all academic resources will be housed to make them easier for students to access. Tutoring centers, OIT, undergraduate studies advisement, and the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) will be dispersed throughout the building.
A new communication center will also be added, where students can get help writing papers, speeches and presentations. A concierge desk will be located on the main floor to help students find any resource that they need. Also on the floors containing academic resources will be various classrooms and breakout rooms that students will be able to reserve at night for study groups or team meetings.
Two 300-person lecture halls will be on the bottom floor of the building, which will be the largest lecture halls on campus. The lecture halls will have real, movable chairs and full tables.
“This will allow a student to sit forward and listen during a lecture and then the professor can tell them to break into small groups and students can simply turn around to use the table behind them,” said Anderson Smith, senior vice provost of academic affairs.
The rest of the building will be filled with various labs. All first- and second-year science labs will be located within the Clough Learning Commons.
The labs will promote hands on learning and a better use of classroom space. The labs will be mostly clumped by discipline, but some will be specified as interdisciplinary learning labs.
The hope is that since all freshmen and sophomores will have science labs centralized within the building, that the students will use the resources found there too, and come to consider the building “their academic home,” according to Smith.
The building is proposed to be composed of two parts that will be linked by a glass atrium with connecting crosswalks.
“The atrium will allow students to look out and see anything that is going on in the building. We hope that this will promote not only interest in perhaps other disciplines, but unique learning,” Smith said.
This idea of unique learning is the theme of the buildings, and is being incorporated to the buildings. Such new ideas as green roofs (gardens located on the tiers of the buildings) being accessible on every science floor or wireless software access in classrooms are in the core of the plans.
Many of the building’s plans were a part of Clough’s vision and master plan for campus.
“He made it be a primarily state-funded building, and really pushed plans forward. It’s due to his efforts that we can start building this fall,” said Nick Wellkamp, undergraduate student body president.
The building is being named in Clough’s honor for both his work in bringing the Learning Commons into a reality and his dedication to Tech as a whole during his tenure here.
The new Learning Commons will bring Tech one step forward in the master plan for campus.
“This building will be one of the central features of Tech in the future,” said Wellkamp. “It is a testament to the impact Clough made on campus… and to the direction of Tech for the future.”