“Preliminary Design” Concludes

By CHBS Dean’s Office

During the past few months our EYP architects have been adding details to our floor plans.  They have visited us three times, conducing day-long meetings that have stretched over four days during each visit.  The last of these visits concluded on November 14.  Floor plan details were added during these meetings.  We discussed cabinetry, furnishings and equipment so that these items could be precisely accommodated within rooms.  The positioning of building utilities necessary to operate equipment were important discussion items.

Considerable time during these meetings was spent discussing the design of the many classrooms included in the building.  A survey of faculty classroom needs was conducted and care was taken to ensure that the needs described by most faculty will be accommodated.  All larger classrooms will be wider than they are deep; this orientation permits the instructor to be closer to every student in the class and creates a more intimate teaching environment.  The latest technology will be included in our classrooms and they will be designed to be flexible, so that many room features would be available to faculty who use various teaching methods.  All classrooms will have electronic podiums for the instructor so that the teacher can present materials from a wide range of sources to their class.  There will be an abundance of white boards on the front and sides of most rooms. Larger rooms will be tiered to make it easier for students to see past the students in front of them.  Classrooms were classified into five types based primarily on the number of students they could accommodate.  The largest three types of classes will have two separate computers to permit the presentation of different images on multiple screens.  Two 185-student classrooms will be our largest rooms and these will have three screens so that multiple separate images can be presented by the instructor.  We will have several 80-student and 60-student classrooms with two screens.  Smaller classrooms for 48- and 30-students with single-screen projectors, as well as seminar rooms with flat-panel monitors will also be available.

Our meetings also included substantial discussion of public spaces within the building.  The building will include many locations for students to wait between classes and places for them to study.  Seating and tables and chairs for both individuals and small groups will be provided.  There will be many places throughout the building for students to charge personal electronic devices and internet-connected printer stations will be available at several locations.  A major topic of discussion was the use of photographs, artwork, words, icons, and color on floors 1 through 4 to create neighborhoods that suggest the primary activities conducted on that floor.  The ground floor has the primary entrance to the building and our largest classrooms and so this will be the most visited; we talked about how we can convey the overall focus of our college on that floor.  The fifth floor includes the CHBS Dean’s Suite and a meeting room for events that include people from the whole campus and our community; the college mission needs to be conveyed using artwork on this floor.  Discussions regarding the design, artwork and furnishing of public spaces will continue.

Our architects will now take the ideas we have discussed and finalize the floor plans for every room in the building.  Shortly after receiving approval the plans they develop, they will be begin working developing detailed construction plans for the building.  Meanwhile, JMU is beginning the process of identifying a contractor who will be responsible for constructing our building.