As a leader in diverse education, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) recognizes the benefits small-scale active learning environments have on students’ engagement, academic success, and retention. However, with classroom buildings from the 1960’s they couldn’t bring success to large lecture-style classrooms. When the 1960’s era Stevenson Hall’s deferred maintenance reached over $20 million, UIC engaged Bailey Edward to analyze the classroom needs of the East Campus, perform a facility condition assessment of Stevenson Hall, and test out three locations for a new learning center devoted to active and informal learning.
The first step was to determine the demand for the types and sizes of classrooms. Working with facilities staff and campus schedulers, Bailey Edward developed analytics that examined existing classroom size, availability and class demand. Armed with this data, it was determined that existing classroom stock could be used to satisfy most of the small-to-medium classroom size demand, but new active learning lecture halls for 192 and 288-students would not work in Stevenson Hall or other UIC buildings. Therefore, a new Learning Hub with a state-of-the-art collaborative learning center was designed to showcase UIC’s role as an education pioneer.
Working closely with the Campus Architect, UIC Deans, Directors, professors, and super scholars, Bailey Edward began to host collaborative team meetings to develop classroom environments that would meet the needs of UIC. Furthermore, three workshops were opened to all faculty and students that wanted to voice an opinion and accurately design a building that represents its users.
The new classroom building will progress UIC from rigid auditorium-style seating to an environment that allows for lectures, working groups, and electronic sharing, three innovative lecture halls or ‘hybrid-group-tiered’ classrooms which became the focus of the building’s form and flow. Their textured, curving shape help direct movement to the glass building entries. Smaller active learning classrooms, IT help desk, café and informal learning spaces come together as a rectilinear ‘learning bar’, a geometric counterpoint to the lecture hall’s curves and the dynamic, flowing wood ceiling.