Spaces for Community
For such a community to work, spaces where individuals can contemplate, study, and do investigative work without distraction should be provided. Such spaces need to be programmed from the very beginning. Interaction between individuals and groups involved in the teaching or learning of science can be encouraged and shaped by such seemingly mundane factors as the placement of benches, doors, faculty offices, restrooms. Community can be extended beyond math and science departments by including a lecture hall or computer lab that will be open to departments from all parts of campus. In order to make the right choices in planning spaces that will contribute to a desired community, campus traffic patterns and possible renovations of existing structures need to be examined.
"To help the intellectual sparks fly, Dartmouth now requites professors from different chemical disciplines to cluster their offices together. " I'm talking to more people than ever before, " says an inorganic biochemist who finds herself housed close by an organic chemist and two physical chemists, one expirimental, the other theoretical.
To encourage hall encounters, offices are separated from labs... by a lounge with a kitchen, and a three-story open staircase wide and grand enough to create another meeting space.
But Burke's real innovation in togetherness is the " write-up rooms" next to its laboratories. Dartmouth researchers used to write up their experiments and meet visitors int the tense, toxic environments of their labs. Now they can remove their safety goggles, write, meet people, or even eat a sandwich at desks separated from their experiments only by safety glass.
...the Dartmouth building is part of a broader movement toward academic buildings designed to promote interaction. These are not frill spaces...Their function is to get people together, and their symbolism is the university as a place where information is shared"
- Wall Street Journal.
From Experience: Susquehanna University
Fisher Science Hall at Susquehanna University offers an example of the massive impact that a structures can have on both science communities and curriculums. Though the unorthodox principles encorporated in the buildings design drew early criticism from some, the unusual features were soon changing the way science was done and taught at Susquehanna. Conversations were taking place between faculty on the atrium balconies, and strong interdisciplinary programs and classes were being formed. Upperclassmen, underclassmen and faculty were mixing in departmental conversation zones. Students who might have been intimidated by traditionaly styled programs in traditional buildings were being attracted to natural science by labs with windows facing Fisher's hallways. All of these design elements were the product of careful pre-construction planning and thoughtful discussion about goals, needs, concerns, and dreams.