As schools innovate and transform what teaching and learning look like on their campuses, the design of academic buildings is likely to change in dramatic ways as well. Classrooms and lecture halls may, over time, fade away and become relics of our educational past.
Bryant University, a private university located in Smithfield, Rhode Island with academic programs that integrate business and the arts and sciences with a global perspective, offers a glimpse of what the future of campus design could look like. Its new Academic Innovation Center (AIC) opened just this past fall.
The Center provides spaces for innovative and interdisciplinary teaching and learning where students can learn in novel formats, develop and prototype new products and services through a design-thinking approach, and collaborate. The goal is to bolster students’ capacity for innovation and creativity.
To facilitate these interactions, Bryant created a building that was recently awarded College Planning & Management’s grand prize for design and architecture. A 48,000 square foot building that cost $31 million to build—$1 million under budget—the Center emerged through a thoughtful collaboration between Bryant University and the architect, Kip Ellis of EYP Architecture and Engineering.
What follows is an interview with Ron Machtley, president of Bryant University, and Ellis. It has been edited for length.