UCSB’s newest classroom building incorporates cutting edge design and technology, but eliminates the cycle path

After the first site in October 2020, construction is underway for the new UC Santa Barbara classroom building project, the first building dedicated solely to classroom space since 1967. Although some are excited by the news technologies he will provide, other students are dissatisfied with his placement. and design.

Construction of the new UCSB classroom building continues during the 2021-22 school year. The building is designed to work with digital media and cutting edge design to facilitate a modern learning environment. Kaiyi Yang / Daily Nexus

Temporarily dubbed the ‘Classroom Building’, the new development features five-level amphitheatres, three active learning classrooms and 20 discussion classrooms, providing 2,000 new classroom spaces for the campus community. . The UC Regents approved the building in May 2019 and construction on the project ensued in October 2020. Currently, the university expects the project to be completed in the spring of 2023.

According to Liana Khammash, project leader of the Classroom Construction Committee, the idea for the project arose four years ago from a series of lunch meetings that Chancellor Henry T. Yang organized with a group of professors. , including Khammash.

“These conversations, along with feedback from students, parents, faculty and staff, made it clear that the greatest need was for state-of-the-art classroom space,” Khammash said.

The building is designed to facilitate the use of modern electronic and digital media to engage students in project-based learning.

According to Leesa Beck, director of summer sessions, each of the five amphitheatres will have worksurfaces large enough to accommodate a laptop computer, as well as ‘rotating’ chairs so that students can form small groups to discuss. . . Project-based learning rooms are set up so that students can work together in groups of five or six, and active learning rooms also have flexible furniture that can be rearranged to suit. to different teaching formats.

“The building will increase the capacity of the campus classrooms by 2,000 seats, or 35%, and create an efficient, safe and sustainable facility that will meet the needs of the campus in a functional and programmatic manner,” said Khammash.

The project will cost more $ 97 million and is financed by appropriations from California State Budget Act 2019-20, specifically for the construction of the classroom building.

The new building will be located in the center of the campus at the south end of the university library, north of the psychology building and west of the science promenade.

However, many students themselves have mixed feelings about the construction of the new building due to its location, which will block the cycle path near the arbor, music building, and library that connects students to de many popular science buildings.

According to Joy Sanap, a third-year mechanical engineering major and vice-president of the Associated Students Bike Committee, the building was originally designed with a bike path between the new building and the library – although this is no longer the case. .

The AS Bike committee has advocated for sufficient cycling infrastructure to support the new classroom building since 2018, when it was still in the early stages of planning. Although the group managed to work with a project manager to increase the number of bicycle parking spaces near the building, it ultimately failed to convince the new building committee to include a cycle path.

“Unfortunately, the staff and faculty of the new classroom building planning committee made the unexpected decision to permanently remove the bike path in just one last-minute meeting in the summer of 2019, when our student representative was absent from campus and unable to participate. ” said Sanap. “The two [our student representative] and the bike committee postponed the decision, but was told it was too late.

According to Sanap, the location and size of the building did not conflict with the location of the bike path.

“Although rerouting the bikes during the construction phase is inevitable, constantly forcing the bikes onto the narrow UCen road with cars is both dangerous and unnecessary,” Sanap said.

Gabriel van Praag, a 2021 UCSB graduate and former member of the AS Environmental Affairs Board (EAB), agreed with Sanap that the removal of the cycle path could have been avoided.

“I understand the original plan was to keep it, but for some reason the construction committee decided to withdraw it and continue with the current design of cycling and crossing the road,” Pragg said. “EAB also had a representative on this committee, and their criticisms of the design were largely ignored.”

Campus senator and sophomore pre-economics major Ethan Engler, while in favor of the new building committee’s proposal, also recognized the need for students’ voices to be heard.

“While I am happy to see UCSB providing more space and amenities for our students, I hope the committee will do their due diligence and put in place alternative cycle paths to ensure that the network of transportation always works well for everyone, ”Engler said.

The campus senator and fourth-year religious studies and history double major Tyler Ferguson, however, believes that while there are some drawbacks, the project will ultimately serve the student body for a long time.

“Even if [the removal of the bike path] is very frustrating, we will have to readjust and accept this change, because when it comes to this project, the pros far outweigh the cons, “said Ferguson. “This new classroom building is desperately needed and will positively affect prospective UCSB students for decades to come.”

Sanap said the Bike Committee will continue to advocate for a better resolution.

“Over the next year, we will work to collect student feedback to present a case to the university in favor of a better alternative path,” he said.

A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the August 26, 2021 print edition of The Daily Nexus.

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