Knox has announced renovations to take place in Founders Lab this summer, but the renovation team and student visions of the new lab do not seem to perfectly align.
Two open forums were held Thursday, May 8 for students and faculty to voice their opinions on what they hope to see in the updated lab. The design team hopes to come up with three versions of concept art for the new space based on ideas from the forum.
Chief Information Officer and Vice President Steve Hall said that the only change that he is certain will occur is some of the interior design of the lab.
“We’ll have new carpet and new paint. Beyond that, we’re not creating any design until after the open forum,” he said.
The renovations for Founders are being funded by money that became available this year from funding through the state, according to Hall. A specific cost has not been set for the updates that will occur.
“Without a design, we don’t have a cost,” Hall said.
Hall said that the school decided to renovate Founders because it is currently outdated.
“My estimation is that it’s literally falling apart. The chairs are shot, the fixtures are old and it’s just really outdated and doesn’t look very nice,” he said.
An idea brought up by Hall and his team was to make Founders a more collaborative workspace for students, instead of being primarily for individualized learning. This proposal garnered mixed reactions from the students in attendance.
User Services Specialist and Lab Manager Emily Frakes said that she hopes that students can use Founders as a place to collaborate after the renovations by possibly combining their own technology with that provided in Founders.
“We really hope that students can come there to find a place to collaborate as well. They can sit in a group and use the equipment that we provide, possibly bring a laptop, hook it up to a monitor that might be a little larger to help with group projects,” she said.
Hall noted that Founders has not been updated since it was built in 1994 and argued that more group work is taking place now than at the time it was built.
Sophomore Laura Lueninghoener attended one of the forums and was skeptical of the idea that Founders should become a collaborative space.
“I still want to see the space as an individualized study space,” she said, pointing to the need to have a place to study after the library closes.
Junior Joshua Voravong also had some concerns about the noise levels that could result from Founders becoming a group workspace, but still thought that this environment could be positive.
“There should be instituted study hours. … They can come up with policies, but that’s something I would like to see and I think that would be really progressive,” he said.
Lueninghoener noted that one of the spaces opening up in CFA after the completion of Alumni Hall may be a more appropriate location for a 24-hour collaborative workspace.
Hall said that because 97 percent of students bring their own computers to campus, the role of Founders could change.
“What I’m hoping is that we can transition from being an equipment supplier to students and filling up our spaces with equipment, and really make those spaces more friendly for students to bring and use their own equipment.”
Voravong pointed out that many students still rely on the technology in Founders when there are problems with their personal devices, making the school-provided equipment necessary.
“I know a lot of people whose PCs or Macs have died and they have to go to Founders because they don’t have a machine temporarily, and it’s those people that we really need that for. That’s why the school needs to keep those systems on hand,” he said.