Story and photos by Dan Landau
With the start of the spring semester also came the official opening of the much-anticipated John and Joan Monninger Center for Learning and Research. The library, college writing, and academic support departments have all moved into their new spaces and the building is open for business.
The Monninger Center encompasses 20,000 square feet of new construction plus 7,500 square feet of renovations in the original library building and Orangerie. The new space contains offices for the College Writing faculty and Academic Support Center staff as well as six classrooms, extra space for studying and tutoring, and two lounge areas. The furniture in both the upstairs and downstairs lounges are wired with electricity and have pop-up outlets in the tables.
The Monninger Center is an extremely green building and is expected to receive LEED certification later this year. Some of the environmentally conscious features include a 20-kilowatt solar panel on the roof, highly efficient windows and insulation materials as well as the HVAC system and boiler. Other green features include two showers and two bike racks, so people can bike to campus and clean up before work or class, and the Venetian blind-style sunshades on the window wall facing the Student Center. These blinds will automatically open and close to keep the sun’s heat out of the building on hot days and let the heat in on cold days.
The ground floor of the new space is built around a large lounge in front of a two-story wall of windows, facing the Student Center. Around the lounge area are several classrooms, including two “smart” classrooms and a 90-seat lecture hall. What makes the classrooms “smart” is the technology embedded in the rooms. The classrooms have the capability to record and archive class sessions, (making it possible for students to review the classes later on), as well as 80-inch touch panel monitors that also double as whiteboards (and store the information written on it). Besides being one of the largest classrooms on campus, the lecture hall also has a 180-inch screen (made up of nine 60-inch flat panel monitors) and a state of the art Crestron control system.
On the second level is a smaller lounge area overlooking the same window wall facing the Student Center. The office suites for the College Writing program and the Academic Support Center are on either side of the lounge area. The main entrance to the building and the library are also on the second floor of the Monninger Center.
The renovated Orangerie has new lighting and new media presentation capabilities as well as new furniture and study areas lining the walls. The library also received a facelift — an all-new reference/circulation room in the old reference room and a new office suite in the old circulation room.