Construction Zone: Custom-Built Academics at Monroe College

July 14, 2011
New Academic Center at Monroe College, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Students at Monroe College, New Rochelle, N.Y., now have an innovative center for studying and gathering. Three adjoining storefront spaces were transformed into a 2,360-square-foot Academic Center with custom furnishing elements, bold colors and a prefabricated wall system.

With no central quadrangle on campus and many adult learners attending class in the evenings, the college wanted to establish a welcoming, interactive learning center that was open to students throughout the day. The college wished to place faculty and administrators front and center so that students who needed academic support and advising could find them easily and meet on a regular basis. It also wanted a variety of environments conducive to individual learning styles, different teaching approaches and varied subject matter.

The location of the Academic Center, right off the main corridor of the campus’ original building on Main Street, provided an opportunity for visibility. The firm established a unifying "facade" in saturated color, facing a major circulation corridor. The center also is visible through newly created window openings, which feature glass in a gradient of transparencies. Dark colors were used to distinguish the center from the rest of the hallway, and a new security desk and reception desk were designed.

Custom furniture elements include "two-on-one" computer tutoring stations that blend traditional "whiteboard learning" with an approach only possible through technology. Two students work with a teacher at an angled table using their own keyboard, yet all are wired to a single, wall-mounted monitor for collaborative viewing and discussion. A sliding whiteboard passes in front of the monitor when needed for solving math problems with a marker in hand.

Doban Architecture (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and its affiliated design studio, Think Fabricate, completed the project.

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