North Quad to showcase state-of-the-art technology, international programs

BY CAITLIN HUSTON
Daily Staff Reporter
Published July 25, 2010

With brand-new, technologically innovative classrooms, interactive study and lounge spaces and an internationally focused cafeteria and residence hall, North Quadrangle is preparing for its grand opening in the fall.

In an exclusive tour given to the Michigan Daily, University officials showcased the 10-story residential building and seven-story academic building, which comprise North Quad. The residence hall will feature state-of-the-art technology while supporting international involvement and programs for students. As the construction progresses, four academic units and the School of Information prepare for their transition into North Quad, bringing with them visions of collaboration and new teaching methods.

With student move-in on Sep. 3, North Quad will house around 460 occupants — all of whom are sophomores, juniors and seniors — in its residential building. The academic building will contain the School of Information, Department of Communication Studies, Language Resource Center, Sweetland Writing Center and the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures, including the Donald Hall Collection.

In the residential building, all floors will be co-ed and will feature a mixture of suite-style rooms and single rooms. The dorm will also feature central air conditioning, as well as wireless Internet access.

At the top of the residential building, the “Tower Room” will feature community programs and activities, as well as a kitchen designated for special dinners for residents.

University Housing Spokesman Peter Logan said he thinks residents living in North Quad will have a different experience from those living in other dorms.

“Living in North Quad is going to be unique in that it will be a residential facility co-located with academic programs and offices with an overarching focus on an awareness of international issues and cultures in an effort to bring about stronger competency as global citizens,” Logan said.

The dormitory will house residents in the Global Scholars Program, a living-learning community formerly based in East Quadrangle, on the fourth floor and the Max Kade community — previously in the Vera Baits houses — on half of the fifth floor.

Logan added that the dormitory, as well as some of the collaborative spaces between the residence hall and the academic building, will host international programming, which could include community programs about a specific country, art exhibitions, opportunities to work with different academic units and video conferencing with other parts of the world.

Logan said he feels that this programming as well as the residents’ interactions with the academic units in the building will generate a vital educational experience.

“It’s going to be really exciting that this building, more than anywhere else, articulates (University President Mary Sue Coleman’s) vision that we need to strengthen that connection between living and learning,” he said.

North Quad will also hold a cafeteria, which Logan said will feature international cuisine, as well as traditional American food. Logan said he believes dorm residents, faculty and staff, will want to eat at the cafeteria as well as students from across campus.

In an e-mail to the Daily, Logan wrote that the dorm will also be energy efficient with occupancy sensor lights in the residential hallways, bathrooms and classrooms, water conservation methods in the plumbing and controls to turn-off air flow in unoccupied conference rooms.

Though some collaborative spaces between the academic and residential sides of the building and other areas of the academic building will still be under construction in the fall, Logan said the dormitory will be completed for student move-in.

“We’re confident that the resident hall is going to be set and ready to go when the students start moving in,” he said.

Because North Quad encompasses both academic spaces and a dormitory, Jamie Lausch, the North Quad Program Coordinator, said she was hired to facilitate the interactions between the different programs in the common spaces of the building.

During the exclusive tour of North Quad, Lausch said one of those spaces — the Media Gateway — will include a lounge with television sets displaying advertisements, student work and public service announcements. The space also features alcoves with chalkboard walls and team rooms below the lounge, which any University student will be able to reserve online.

The other common space, which has not yet been given a name, is still under construction and is not slated to be finished when the dorm opens. As this area facing State Street is still under development, Lausch said the space may be used as a public gathering place and may feature MHealthy classes or host receptions and gatherings. Lausch also said she is working with the SAC department on this project.

As the residential building prepares for the incoming students, some academic units of the building have already begun moving in.

With part of the School of Information’s move to the building last Monday, Dean of SI Jeffrey MacKie-Mason said he is excited about the range of new technologies that the school will have in the building. These include life-size, high-definition uncompressed video conferencing and wireless video camera systems in the classrooms, MacKie-Mason said.

MacKie-Mason added that he is looking forward to having the school’s doctoral and master students — previously split between North and Central campuses — together in the same place. The North Campus component of the department will be moving to North Quad in October.

MacKie-Mason said the other advantage of North Quad is the potential to work with the Department of Communication Studies as well as the Sweetland Writing Center and the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures.

“We’re all units that deal in various ways with media and information and communications, and we have a lot of common interests and a lot of overlap in both teaching and research objectives,” he said. “We haven’t been able to interact very much in the past, because we’ve been scattered across campus, so we’re really looking forward to interacting with the units. It’s like a digital life playground around here.”

Danielle Peters, Senior Information Assistant at the Language Resource Center, said the center is also excited to move into North Quad on Aug. 6 and to work with the different departments in the building.

The LRC will also expand its satellite television offerings in the fall, so that anyone can bring a laptop into North Quad and watch satellite TV over an IP web address, Peters said. The LRC is working with the University to make this offering campus-wide in the future.

With a move-in date of Sep. 1, Phil Hallman, the Donald Hall Collection Librarian, said he hopes that the move from E. Liberty to North Quad can help the library — which houses over 20,000 DVDs, screenplays, books and an archival print collection as part of the SAC department — become more recognized on campus.

“We’re sort of an unknown library for the most part for campus, so hopefully we’ll be a little more known in the North Quad building,” Hallman said.

The Sweetland Writing Center will also be open in North Quad on Jul. 28, though its peer-tutoring center will remain in Angell Hall.