Outdoor hammocks, wood-fired pizza, an art gallery and a bedroom? Look inside Kettering University’s new $63 million Learning Commons

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FLINT, MI — Wood-fired pizza. Outdoor hammocks.

Wireless screen connection. An art gallery and cafe.

And yes, even a room with a view from the fourth floor.

Kettering University’s new $63 million Learning Commons features state-of-the-art technology combined with a complex architecture that makes it a new haven for students and faculty.

“We see the Learning Commons as a revolution in how universities conceptualize space, how they shape space to create and support behavior and a model of collaborative work,” said Kettering University President, Dr. Robert K. McMahan. “To find out more about it and its purpose, we must first suspend everything we think of university spaces. The Learning Commons is unique. There is no building on a college campus, or anywhere else, quite like this.

Related: Kettering University opens $63 million state-of-the-art learning spaces

The 105,000 square foot building rises four stories in the heart of campus and will serve as an optimal collaboration space, transforming social and academic life.

McMahan said the Learning Commons is the first new building on campus in 20 years and features architectural elements from many buildings he has visited.

“I would pay particular attention to a small area or aspect of a building and how people interacted with the space,” McMahan said. “This building brings together a number of these aspects in a clever and functional way that promotes collaboration between students and professors. Open meeting spaces with comfortable furnishings and glass-walled meeting rooms allow people to see what’s going on inside and encourage them to participate.

The building features large, open, technology-enhanced spaces that encourage innovation, reflecting the values ​​of the university through a cooperative learning model.

The facility includes a digital library, a 200-seat auditorium described as a “mini” IMAX theater, dining rooms, media resource centers, outdoor patios with seating, multiple collaboration spaces and a faculty suite. and guest speakers.

There is also a reflection space where people can have privacy.

Lots of natural light spills throughout the building through the large windows on all sides. These windows also provide spectacular new aerial views of campus.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $25 million to support construction of the building.

The Learning Commons was also the centerpiece of the university’s Boldly Forward Capital Campaign, which raised $155 million from July 2012 to December 2021. Of that total, $45.4 million was dedicated to installation.

Kettering University has received funds from more than 6,000 donors through the campaign, which will provide scholarships and improvements to several buildings.

The Learning Commons was designed by world-renowned architectural firm Stantec, which has designed university facilities in 37 states and provinces across North America.

Officials launched the Learning Commons on February 5, 2020.

During construction, 888 tons of steel and 7,650 cubic yards of concrete were used. The auditorium’s stone, curtain wall, glazing, steel, green roof, finished wood, and trim were all sourced or manufactured in the United States.

The roof garden is designed to reduce runoff and roof surface and ambient air temperatures. The grass-covered level outside the Learning Commons is designed to reduce runoff and serve as an amphitheater for group meetings and student entertainment activities.

The building is designed so people can stand on one side and see out the other side with clear sight lines. Additionally, the stairs to each floor are not stacked, requiring people to move laterally before they can move vertically, encouraging more movement throughout the building.

“It’s a museum-caliber environment in terms of quality and building systems,” McMahan said. “It can be modified and extended and will last 50 to 60 years. The only thing you can do is build something flexible enough to allow people to define the building.

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