By Adam Rubenfire, Managing News Editor
Published August 29, 2013
After a $4.4 million renovation project, the Angell Hall Computing Site — known on campus as “the Fishbowl” — will re-open its doors on Sept. 3, the first day of classes for undergraduate students.
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Nearly every aspect of the 32,000-square-foot space has been renovated. Gone are the cramped rows of computer workstations, replaced by spoked tables that offer more space and power supply for laptops. In fact, though all of the computers in the space are new, there are 122 less units at the site, which previously had 250.
Stephen Sarrica, manager of Campus Computing Sites, said the decision was made to reduce the amount of machines after staff noticed that many students were placing their personal laptops in front of the University computers. With less computers and more tables and seating, there’s more room for students to work with their own computers, he said.
Renee Cruse, the University’s lead interior designer, described the new Fishbowl as a more open enviornment, inviting to collaboration and free movement. Cruse also said designers also took care to ensure that materials were durable and easy to clean.
In addition to the computer workstations, several specialized couches, chairs and fixtures create smaller, contained group workspaces, including a “grandstand area” that features cushioned, grandstand seating. Cruse said much of the new furniture in the Fishbowl was chosen after students were given the opportunity to try out several different chairs and tables last fall.
The Fishbowl was slightly expanded into the Angell Hall auditorium cooridor, so that computers and printers that were previously in that area could be moved inside the space. In addition, a new entrance from the auditorium wing was created, and one of the four computer classrooms that previously occupied the east side of the space was eliminated, while the three remaining were rennovated.
Possibly the most noticable change to the space is the addition of a lounge area. The small, intimate area, which features darker colors, dimmed lights, and an LED-starlit ceiling, is intended to be a “night” space, in contrast to the brighter rest of the site.
The “night” space also features two media:scape systems, where users can plug in multiple laptops to a large monitor for group viewing. The system allows users working in a group to quickly switch between computers by pressing a “puck” that is attached to the monitor display cables.
Staff who oversee the space previously sat in the center of the space. Their new home, deemed “the Nest,” is situated in the corner of the computer lab. Its raised platform and unique design allows consultants to see the entire lab.
The renovations also made the Fishbowl more energy efficient. A new floor-to-ceiling ventilation system replaces heavy fans that were previously used at the site, allowing for better air flow. The Fishbowl’s new lighting system also takes into account the amount of natural light that comes through the space’s giant skylights, adjusting accordingly at different times of day. In addition, recycled wood was used in the rennovation.
Chief Information Officer Laura Patterson said the University hopes that the Fishbowl continues to offer space for individual users, but improves upon its ability to foster collaboration.
“I’m eager to see how it actually plays out, because it looks like that design principle was achieved,” Patterson said. “And now I’m eager to see if work behavior bears that out.”