When I first opened the doors to the third floor of Bessey Hall for class in room 317, I was greeted with new faux wood flooring, a rearrangement of furniture, a fresh coat of paint, and benches. Anyone who has traveled to Bessey Hall knows the third floor underwent a renovation this summer, which included a few classrooms and a new look for the hallway.
I got the chance to meet with Dr. Laura Julier, associate chair and director of the professional writing program, and was able to get some more insights on the third floor’s revamp.
“All the people that were involved in the decisions for the renovation of the 3rd floor were very careful to try and meet with everyone in Bessey to share the plans and hear their concerns, which was important!”
Laura also spoke to me about two classrooms on the third floor’s transformation to become REAL classrooms, which stands for Rooms for Engaged and Active Learning. The aim of setting up classrooms in this format is intended to create a more interactive, collaborative learning environment.
While I haven’t had class in these REAL classrooms, one room’s revamp I have been affected by personally is room 317. Room 317 is an important component of the third floor, especially in regards to the WRAC Department because it’s the professional writing program’s hub. For its portion of the makeover, 317 received a fresh coat of paint, a new whiteboard, a new printer, and a touch panel screen for instructors to use to operate different technologies in the classroom (as opposed to a remote). When I talked to Professor Alexandra Hidalgo about the new technologies, arrangement, and additions to the room she said:
“It’s easier to see all the students. Managing the computers is a lot easier. I love that little panel they have instead of the remote control. It’s a lot more user friendly.”
Besides attending and teaching class in 317, the department wants to make 317 an open area during its vacant hours for students to gather to collaborate and work on any of their projects. And students do. PW senior Marla Koenigskecht was hard at work in the newly redone 317 when I asked her what she thought of the renovations. She said:
“I like it. I guess I feel like it’s more set up like a classroom, unlike the previous situation.”
The previous situation Marla referenced was a more closed up desk arrangement, condensing the room. Now the desk are arranged in a more open way, as seen below:
Besides undergraduate students, graduate students also take classes and utilize room 317. Graduate student Maria Novotny said, she appreciated the two different projector screens because she can “be positioned to see each easily.”
As far as further professor feedback goes, when I asked Dr. Julier if she was happy with 317′s transformation she said:
“Yes! There is less room for stuff sitting on tables, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s clean and I like the colors.”
Despite a downsizing in the amount of objects on the table, not all of the room’s eccentricity was lost. There are still a number of stuffed animals, Rubik’s cubes, magic 8 balls, markers, pens, and a number of other objects to help fuel the space with inspiration.
Jordan Poll, a PW senior, found the lack of clutter refreshing, too. She described the new room as “professional, grownup, and more refined.” She also said:
“The colors and the organization of the space makes it appear more open and inviting. The even have light dimmers! I love the faux wood flooring, too.”
As for my own take on the space, I love it. I find that the amount of clutter is just balanced enough to remain quirky and inspirational, but not overwhelming. I never really utilized the space before for work, and now I’m definitely going to venture here more. I can see myself accomplishing a lot. Overall, I give the space a stamp of approval.