Last week, a group of EdLabbers, Teachers College stakeholders, and architects participated in a series of exercises designed to understand the needs and possibilities for uses of space in the learning theater. For our team, which included Gary, Luke, and myself (also known as the superior team – equos superiores
), one of the main insights yielded by the exercises was the importance of light for facilitating intelligent use of space (intelligent=according to the intentions of event designers, presumably leading to rich learning experiences, well thought out, and grounded in research and successful past experiences).
So this week I decided to play with light in the third floor Offit Gallery to see if in fact we can guide people to use that space differently.
These are some of the behaviors I thought it would be a good idea to discourage:
- People use the gallery space as study space, often setting up a table as desk and the gallery benches as chairs.
- People talk loudly in that space, understandably escaping the silence requirements of the reading room, but often disrupting equally important silence in the adjacent classrooms and study rooms.
- People use the benches as beds for napping, sometimes setting up camp zones featuring objects such as half eaten spicy thai food platters, shoes with rolled up socks inside, and mountains of paper spread over unnecessarily large areas of carpeting.
- People push the benches against the walls resting their backs against the walls and leaving stains on the light colored walls (this is often combined with #1 and #3).
By dimming the lights and leaving only the spot lights agains the walls on, I hope we can invite people to think of this space as a quiet, dignified space for art and contemplation, and a transition space between the reading room and classrooms, rather than as a space for active work. We shall see what happens.
Also, when you visit the Offit Gallery on the third floor, check out the wonderful murals created by local youths in collaboration with Creative Art Works
and the gorgeous wall text designed by Maxine and patiently applied to the walls by Maxine and Minsung.