“It’s always sunny in the Learning Resource Center (LRC),” proclaimed Kris Stinson, manager of Help Desk Operations, not long after the brand new space on Salus University’s campus opened. The LRC is sunny, owed to its many windows and natural light, as well as the “sunny” disposition of Salus community members including faculty, staff and students who use the space.
“It’s been very rewarding to be part of an experience and process that saw the space evolve from abstract ideas to flat renderings on paper, then through construction phases to finally evolve into a [learning] hub for the entire University community,” said Marietta Dooley, MSLIS, director of the LRC.
All three of Salus University’s major strategic priorities
—quality, innovation and value along with fiscal responsibility—were satisfied through the creation, execution and opening of this campus space, which took the place of the former library. The new LRC space was unveiled to the community in January 2017.
Aptly named the “living room of the campus” by chief information officer William A. Brichta, the completion of the LRC was the first key issue to be addressed by the University’s master facilities plan. The University’s goal was “to improve campus-wide space utilization to maximize the University’s ability to successfully educate students.”
The LRC occupies 11,000 square feet over two floors, with open format seating and collaborative study rooms. The space is ADA accessible, and features a multitude of upgrades. The first floor—with a small coffee bar, integrated microwaves and café atmosphere—is more “chatty” and includes a 50-person classroom outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. The quiet second floor is meant for studying. Within the LRC there are testing rooms designed to meet the needs of students with approved accommodations, as well as a dedicated space that members of the Salus community may use for meditation.
“Sprinkled about are study areas and computer workstations,” said Mr. Brichta. Students can easily choose the space that makes the most sense for what they are doing on any given day. The furniture is Ms. Dooley’s favorite change. The options are unique and maximize students’ studying experience. “The seating includes everything from comfortable, casual seating for group collaboration to modern, private pods, or even traditional carrels for serious studying,” she said.
To address the technology needs of students and the multiple devices they use daily, electrical outlets and USB jacks can be found all over the LRC. Wi-Fi enhancement has significantly improved student connectivity. Students can also send materials electronically from outside the LRC to the printer and pick them up with a swipe of their ID card.
The University’s Technology and Library Service Help Desk
moved to the location and is prominently accessible. Even the LRC entrance, with a ramp and open doors for easy traffic flow between the lobby and the LRC, helps to naturally accentuate the helpdesk, said Richard Winston, principal, BWA Architecture + Planning, who also designed the LRC.
“Technology and Library Services is now front and center so that students who are in the LRC to study can stop by and get support. The change is that I get to communicate with students directly and I love it—our students are great to be around,” added Ms. Stinson.
When library materials moved temporarily to the Hafter Student Community Center during renovation, it was a good opportunity to weed out resources that weren’t in good condition or that were outdated, said Ms. Dooley. Since so many publications are online, she said, “Going digital with more of our collection allows students to access our collection from anywhere, and allows us to give the space in the LRC back to our students.”
An overarching aspect of the upgrade was the aesthetic appeal and look of the LRC. To create a more welcoming space, priorities were given to updating features such as acoustical tile ceilings, lighting, and finishes and colors. “From our experiences working on another resource center, you inject a lot of life into it both through architectural treatments and furniture and lighting,” said Mr. Winston.
Mr. Winston’s architectural firm’s plan was charged with making the LRC space more inviting, including transparency of the smaller study rooms to borrow more daylight, dramatizing height and adding light by increasing the ceilings on the first floor from eight feet to 14 feet, introducing visually interesting furniture, replacing the original stairway with one much more broad and open, and featuring a floor to ceiling transparent window design portraying the University’s healthcare programs.
BWA was one part of a team that included project management by Jones Lang LaSalle; construction by Flatiron Building Company; technology and audio visual design by Metropolitan Acoustics; mechanical, plumbing and electrical work by Sera Engineering; and an entryway mural by Komita Design, LLC.
In his remarks at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on January 30, Mr. Winston said the project was challenging, interesting and fun—specifically calling out members of the Salus committee and the important feedback and ideas they provided. “What is meaningful to me is this was a very smart client who was very involved,” he said.
During the ceremony, Katharine Funari ‘18OD shared, “My peers and I have enjoyed utilizing the new space for club meetings, study sessions, and quiet reading. The new Learning Resource Center has provided not only a space for learning but also a space for collaboration and the formation of peer-to-peer relationships.”
There is much excitement associated with the completed LRC. This project represents the first of many welcome changes that the University will offer its students to enhance their learning experience. Additional renovations and innovative changes to the University facilities can be expected in the near future.
Photography By Don Pearse Photographers, Inc.