Students appreciate their new space

By Kate Smith, CLAS ’12

Photography by Daniel Buttrey

Photography by Daniel Buttrey

The new Classroom Building may be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to enhance lectures and classes, but many UConn students are more impressed with the simple things. Namely, the building’s design.

Students are appreciative of the open, spacious architecture that conjures the feeling of “infinite space” as described by senior Paul Bloom. When juxtaposed with the buildings it will eventually replace, Monteith and Arjona, the new building’s effect is impossible to ignore, says Bloom.

The design intentions were far from indiscriminate.

Jordan Kannon, a project engineer at Skanska, the general contractor for the Classroom Building, explains that giving the building an “open, non-repetitive feel” was paramount in the design. The building houses solely classrooms, and, as the name implies, it’s a building for students.

“Arjona and Monteith both have offices and classrooms mixed amongst each other,” said Kannon. “While classroom usage does not mind high traffic hallways outside the door, offices do not necessarily want the same traffic. By having both occupy the space, you can’t focus the efforts in design.”

For students, the effort shows.

“Compared to Arjona and Monteith, the architecture is welcoming and pleasant and the classrooms and lecture halls a million times better,” says Jonathan Nip, a senior biology major. “Between the new building and Arjona and Monteith there is absolutely no comparison.”

Of course, the tangible advances of the Classroom Building haven’t gone unnoticed. Particularly during the warm start of the semester, the new air conditioning was appreciated.

“Two words… air conditioning!” says Frank Eucalitto, a senior molecular cell biology major, when asked what he enjoys most about the new building.

And the winter was not forgotten, either. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the open lobby is intended to be available for students to easily cut through to avoid wind, cold, and snow on their way to class.

“Instead of zoning off the area of the building’s footprint, the large lobby through the entire first floor is supposed to serve as a “cut-through” for students as well as access to classrooms,” Kannon says.

Even the seating is updated and better, students say.

“It’s nice to sit in chairs as opposed to elementary school desks like in [Monteith],” says Justin Morgan, a junior physics major. “A better looking building, in a more central location, with climate-controlled classrooms…what’s not to like?”

First-year economics graduate student Patrick Smith describes his experience in Monteith as reminiscent of his undergraduate years in the early 1980s.

“The new tabletop desks in the Classroom Building accommodate right and left-handed students compared with Monteith’s single-piece desk and chairs, designed only for right-handers,” says Smith, a left-handed student. “The experience in the Classroom Building has been excellent, offering a quiet and comfortable environment with good sight lines, lighting and acoustics.”

In the Classroom Building students also enjoy state-of-the-art lecture halls that “seem to be a cross between a high-tech classroom and movie theater,” says Kannon.

Both lecture halls and each classroom are outfitted with wi-fi, cable, projector screens, and easy access to lighting control. Professors have the option of “lecture mode” or “projector mode,” among others, with controls that are intended to be simple and clear. In addition to the artificial lighting, classrooms have solar and blackout shades that can be easily manipulated to either block or allow natural light.

“I had an opportunity to view some of the movie ‘Avatar’ during the testing of the AV system in the lecture halls,” Kannon says. “I was simply amazed by the crisp picture and sound.

See a slide show of the new building.

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