Transformative Renovations and New Connections

On December 1, Charles Piper, alongside Garret Westlake, Executive Director of VCU’s da Vinci Center, and Jeanne Narum, Principal of Learning Spaces Collaboratory, will be presenting a webinar titled “Transformative Renovations and New Connections.” The webinar will focus on  renovations of dated, twentieth-century academic spaces into relevant and engaging  active learning labs that transform the learning experience and prepare students to become entrepreneurs & innovators in today’s hands-on environment.

The webinar is the yearlong culmination of BCWH’s invited engagement with the Learning Spaces Collaboratory, a think-tank in Washington DC that explores the future of planning physical learning spaces for higher education – connecting the dots directly between questions to be asked about how planning happens and about how learning happens. In March, Charles Piper traveled to Georgia Tech to join architects and learning specialists from universities in the southeast to brainstorm about the current undergraduate learning environment. The group discussed the profile of a future undergraduate learner and the current trends in higher education: openness, flexibility, and cross-disciplinary pollination of programs and curriculum. To follow-up on the roundtable, Shannon Dowling attended a workshop at George Washington University in early June. The workshop brought together architects, planners, provosts, faculty members, and directors of Teaching and Learning Centers from around the country to consider what the questions are that we need to be asking as we plan for the next generation of higher education learning environments.

BCWH’s work with the DaVinci Center at Virginia Commonwealth University was a project recognized in the roundtable discussion series. The daVinci Center, an intentionally unscheduled 24-hour design incubator, serves as a kind of “neutral zone” for students from VCU’s Schools of Business, Arts, and Engineering and the College of Humanities and Sciences, to push learning and strategic thinking beyond the boundaries of disciplines and of the typical classroom. The project renovated 3,800 sf of a nineteenth century rowhouse into a collection of studios, videoconference, break-out, and office spaces. The space, centrally located on campus between the various schools and colleges that participate in the program, gave the Center an architectural identity and helped champion the program. Since the da Vinci Center opened in the spring of 2014, it has served as a free-thinking physical catalyst for the campus and the program, tripling in size its student body and growing the program into two Masters Programs, three undergraduate certificates, and a scholars program. Read more about the renovation and its impact here.

To learn more about the webinar or sign up to join us, visit the learning spaces collaboratory.

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