The Learning Innovation Center and its landscape quad define a new precinct on Oregon State University’s historic Olmstead campus. It provides a home for the Honors College while serving every department in the university with 2,300 classroom seats in 14 unique settings and 640 seats of informal learning space distributed around the building, creating a hub for multi-disciplinary interaction.
Boora was challenged to design big lecture halls that could create learning outcomes like smaller and more intimate classrooms. To pull this off, they had to work closely with the instructors to imagine an experience that no had ever seen before.
This inquisitive process helped Boora understand how learning takes place. The key is to create the most engaging interaction possible between the instructors and the students. Proximity is crucial, yet in most large lecture halls students sit far away from the instructor. They also learned that providing informal study and break-out spaces is critical.
By flipping the traditional design and putting generous hallways with informal study areas on the perimeter, Boora eased the congestion of student flow between classes while creating comfortable areas that encouraged learning to continue outside the classroom.
Both the 600-seat and 300 seat Arena classrooms utilize teaching in the round to bring students as close to the instructors as possible. Using the latest technology and a ring of large screens, every seat in the classroom is a good seat. The 185-seat Parliament classroom is two sided, an idea we took from the British Parliament. And the Learning Studios are designed for students working in groups to accommodate different pedagogies.
The building provides a home for the Integrated Learning Resource Center, a new department that supports instructors in using the technology and techniques required for these innovative teaching spaces. Already, the faculty is telling us that class outcomes are higher than ever before.