Yunyun (Winnie) Gu, ’19, an art and architecture double major, attended the first session of her studio class in a conference room, rather than an actual studio.
The art, architecture and design department moved to Building C on Mountaintop Campus for increased space, technology and innovation at the beginning of the semester. Gu said the entire architecture wing was not set up for the first week of classes, but she is excited for the new creative studio spaces.
Professor Nik Nikolov, an associate professor of architecture, said although the transition has been a long process, students and faculty are eager to settle in a new location that is more suitable for the department.
“The true potential of this move lies not in the hardware that goes in the classroom, but in the relationship between the different spaces,” Nikolov said. “We have this opportunity … to merge the classroom with the lab with the shop with the admin office so we’re having these huge big spaces in direct proximity to fabrication spaces, media rooms and classroom and seminar rooms.”
The department was moved as part of the university’s Path to Prominence plan, which includes updating facilities and admitting more students. Chandler-Ullmann Hall, the department’s previous home, is also under construction.
Anna Chupa, the chair of the art, architecture and design department, said the move to Mountaintop allows for a smoother workflow for students because of the proximity of the new and innovative available resources.
Chupa said while planning for the move, department faculty met with administration, facilities, transportation consultants and the architects that designed the space to approve every detail of the new facilities.
Both Chupa and Nikolov said they hope the building and its technological installations will allow students to think more creatively. One classroom, Nikolov said, is so advanced that it has seven screens and a camera that follows the movements of the professor as he or she speaks.
“When you’re given the opportunity with spaces like that, with all the high tech computer labs that we have and the fabrication facilities, our ambitions change as well,” Nikolov said.
The department remains focused on its studio culture, which Nikolov said gives students the opportunity to view each other’s work and discuss it openly and publicly.
“For myself, personally, I actually like the space up there and I know the department worked really hard for us to be comfortable in that new space,” Gu said.
Up until recently, Nikolov said Building C was a “ghost building” but he is pleased to see that it is now being used for classes. He said construction was still occurring at the start of the semester, but the spaces are promised to be ready within the first weeks of the semester.
Gu said she was worried about the studios and their lack of privacy for students and their work, especially for figure drawings that involve nude models. She hopes there will be a better arrangement once everything is completed.
Since students might not be accustomed to taking the bus or driving to class, Nikolov said students and faculty still need time to adjust to the change. He said students are often late or need to leave class early because the bus schedule does not accommodate course times well.
Gu said the departmental move has been problematic for students who have classes on both Asa Packer and Mountaintop campuses, however, her personal schedule has allowed her to move between campuses smoothly.
“It was an enormous scale to experience so just boxing all of that up alone and planning for the equipment and the furniture–that was a lot to do from May to June,” Chupa said.