Students are about to get a lot more space to learn.
Campus officials broke ground June 3 on a 600-seat lecture hall to be situated between Hutchison Hall and California Avenue. The $22 million building is scheduled for completion in January 2018.
“A groundbreaking for a facility like this, which is so needed and is going to be so vibrantly used, is always an occasion for celebration,” Acting Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter said. “It will help us as we schedule large classes and ensure that there are no bottlenecks on the pathway to graduation.”
The building was designed in collaboration with architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
"The new lecture hall is designed to provide much-needed instructional space for the university's growing enrollment," said Karl Backus, design principal from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's San Francisco office. "We received valuable input from administration, faculty and students to create a highly interactive learning environment with state-of-the-art technology and advanced sustainability."
Senior lecturer Liz Applegate, who was on the planning committee, said “every single centimeter” of the building was carefully planned.
It will feature skylights and more natural light than most lecture halls on campus, along with giant projection screens with anti-glare coatings. The lobby will include spaces for socializing, as well as a kiosk serving food and coffee. The new hall is expected to be LEED-gold-certified and zero-net energy-ready upon completion.
Applegate said staff set up chairs in Freeborn Hall to test ideal spacing and distance to the instructor. She also praised the seating arrangement: long tables with chairs that swivel around so students can break into groups of four.
“I thought it needed to be very linear, the way it is in SciLec 123, but this is going to be great for collaboration — an active learning room that will seem intimate,” she said.
Applegate, who has taught Nutrition 10 to an estimated 60,000 students over three decades, has some experience in what makes a large lecture space useful.
“That's what's so important for students — to not feel like they're lost, and for faculty to feel like they're reaching each one of the students,” she said.