We’re excited to be working right now with UC Davis on the renovation of the north wing of Cruess Hall – a rather industrial 1950s building that will house screening rooms, labs, and maker spaces for the Cinema & Digital Media and Industrial Design programs. Some of these spaces will be quite industrial themselves, and seem a fitting use for the currently vacant building. As we begin to look for case studies to inform our work, our client shared this video from Stanford’s D-School, showing 10 days in the life of the D’s central collaboration space. It’s time-lapse, and takes just four minutes to view – and it demonstrates how a very utilitarian space can be the beating heart of an institution if you plan it right, furnish it right, and relax a bit.
What is it that makes this space work so well? First, a slew of robust, flexible, movable furniture options. At first I wondered where it all lived and assumed there was a big storage room somewhere – but if you view the video carefully you see that all the furniture occupies the perimeter when it’s not being used. Second, the finishes are very utilitarian and able to withstand constant change – I’m thinking in particular of the concrete floor. Third, there is very little technical provision – within the frame just a single floor box. This means that students and faculty are relying on non-digital instruction or are using the battery life of their devices, and likely wifi for signal. As an avowed fan of movable white boards I am thrilled to see them used to such great effect! For a transitory space this analog approach seems very reasonable, but it’s also fun to think about how digital media could be used. Hoping we can bring some of these ideas to our work at Davis!