Requirements Committee
Judy Brooks, Eberly Center
Connie Eaton, Computing Services
Kimberly Hennessey, Computing Services
Greg Kesden, SCS
Marsha Lovett, Eberly Center
Klaus Sutner, SCS
Shruti Valjee, Computing Services

Design Committee
Guy Blelloch, SCS
Kimberly Hennessey, Computing Services
Greg Kesden, SCS
Kara Knechtel, IKM Architects
Philip Lehman, SCS
Andrew Reilly, Campus Design
Jim Skees, SCS
Samara Wheaton, IKM Architects
Steven Watson, IKM Architects

Construction Committee
Greg Kesden, SCS
Andrew Reilly, Campus Design
Jim Skees, SCS
Samara Wheaton, IKM Architects

Sponsors and Liasons
Mike Baker, Citadel LLC
Steven Belluardo, Citadel LLC
Alex Galperin, Citadel LLC
Merideth Jordan, Citadel LLC
Gregory Kesden, SCS
Philip Lehman, SCS
Lindsay Martens, Citadel LLC
Elizabeth Ori, Citadel LLC
Steven Thompson, Citadel LLC
John Talarico, Citadel LLC

Project Lead
Gregory Kesden, SCS

University Leadership
Randy Bryant, SCS Dean (Immediate Past)
Steve Huth, Vice-Provost and CIO
Andrew Moore, SCS Dean

November 3rd, 2014

Dear friends:

Although the official grand opening will come later, and we're still finishing up a few details, the new Citadel Teaching Commons is open! The bar seating is always open to the public, the table seating is open to the public until 4:30pm, and then reservable by TAs for office hours via this link.

This marks the completion of the first of three phases of construction undertaken with the very generous support of Citadel LLC, the project's sponsor, and in collaboration with Computing Services, the Eberly Center, and IKM Architects, the School of Computer Science. When complete, the 5th floor will be completely transformed from a fragmented landscape of labs, offices, and carrels into a unified student-centered collaborating, computing, teaching, and learning space. Thank you, very, very much for your input so far.

As the process continues, we'll be announcing the availability of dovetailing Citadel-sponsored resources, including compute clusters, storage clusters, and a student-accessible machine room, among other generous donations. We are very thankful for Citadel's generous, full-package investment in our program. And, we look forward to our continuing collaboration with them.

We want to keep you posted -- and continue to hear your thoughts along the way. This page will be updated as the project progresses.

The 5th Floor Big Picture

After much discussion and consideration, a decision was made to remove the three offices and reception area adjacent to the Pausch Bridge entrance, combine the space with the existing stub corridor, and form a new ~1000 n.s.f. commons area, primarily for use by students in CS classes and their TAs. The running name for this space is the "Citadel Teaching Commons."

A complimentary decision was made to preserve the architecture of the main corridor and with it, the external footprint of the GHC 5208+5201 and GHC 5205 spaces. In so doing, it was decided that we'd resource the various use cases with a diverse portfolio of space, rather than by the creation of fewer, larger "Swiss Army" style clusters.

The Citadel Teaching Commons

The commons area, which opened on September 12th, 2014 serves as an open-format collaborative and work space. It serves as a space where students can work during the day and hosts TA office hours in the evenings. It offers a huge wall of whiteboard that can support a few independent impromptu discussions, as well as a smaller whiteboard breakout area perfect for a small group. The bar-style seating around the outside is great for individuals or pairs and has continuous electrical outlets strips under the surface to support laptops and mobile devices. In order to support different types of groups, there are three different table sizes -- each with outlets direclty below on the floor.

Citadel Collaborative Clusters: GHC 5208 and GHC 5210

GHC 5208 and 5210 (nee 5201), Scheduled to open Thursday, December 18th, will become 20-seat computer-enriched collaborative spaces. The wall between the two spaces is being moved to adjust the configuration from 14+25 to 20+20. The table configuration supports individual work, as well as work in groups of 2, 3, 4, or 6. There is ample space for TAs and instructors to circulate, and full A/V system support. Although designed to favor student collaboration over instructor-focused activities, by aligning the tables along the same center-line, instructor-led presentations are still possible. Much as in the case in the typical conference room, participants will look to the side to see presentation, rather than straight-forward -- but no one will need to turn around.

One of the more exciting aspects of the design of these two rooms is the use of the miSEAT collaboration desks. The desks, through the good works our friends at Citadel, are being custom manufactured to fit our space. High-performance/small-footprint computers will be integrated -- providing the resource of resident computers, without the interference. The monitors will be on fully articulating arms, to ensure they can be perfectly positioned for each person -- and each group. Built in inductive chargers will work with simple dongles to allow the charging of mobile devices -- without distracting cables. Flat, capacitive touch keyboards and mouspads will be built into the desks, providing the right technology to augment person-centered collaboration, while USB keyboards will be available for keyboard-intensive hacking. The upshot is a high-tech space that will be perfect for people no matter how they want to collaborate -- without computers, with resident computers, or with their own laptops.

Citadel High-Performance Cluster: GHC 5205

There exists a natural tension between space optimized for peer collaboration (look at each other) and space optimized for instructor-led activities (look at instructor). Given the decision made to favor collaboration in the Commons and also in GHC 5208 and GHC 5210, a dove-tailing decision was made to provide a first-class space for instructor-led presentations in GHC 5205.

There exists a similar tension between filling space with people and filling space with equipment. Those who've wrestled with large-form factor computers on their desks, or at their feet, know this all too well. The use of advanced, small footprint computers integrated into the miSEAT tables provides an excellent way of providing for the every-day computing needs of students, including programming and systems courses, while virtually eliminating the computers' footprints. But, everything has limits. Although computing is moving into the cloud (stay tuned for an announcement about the Citadel High-Performance Compute and Data Clusters), some students continue to require hands-on access to truly high-performance workstations. To meet this need, full form-factor computers, with a lot of memory, and high-end GPU-rich "graphics" boards are required.

To meet these needs, GHC 5210 (nee 5201) will reopen for spring with a somewhat familiar instructor-centered design. But, those who use it will find that it feels more spacious and user-centered than ever before. In particular, there will be more shoulder and legroom and none of the dreaded "desk leg straddling" seats. And, those with a need to speed will find the large-profile computers hold the nVidia-donated high-performance graphics boards that have previously been scatted throughout out facilities.

AV System Upgrades

GHC 5205, 5208, and 5210 will all reopen with a new, full digital AV kit. HDMI will now be natively support. And, the new projectors will better match the resolution of most modern laptops. GHC 5205 will retain the full instructor station. But, GHC 5208 and 5210 will see the large, often unused instructor desk, replaced with an agile, heigh-adjustable, smaller-footprint laptop podium.

Citadel Student Machine Room

Although a very modest student accessible machine room was once within the scope of this project, it was pruned in order to enable a greater investment into the other spaces, which we expect will impact more students, more intensely, over a longer period of time. The small 65 sq-ft machine room would have required extensive, an extremely expensive HVAC and electrical renovations. The money was better invested into the other top-quality teaching spaces, which will impact a much larger constituency for a very, very long time. This is particularly true as we expect, within a short time, a continued transition into the cloud and services such as VM-on-demand to virtually eliminate the need for students to rack servers.

Capabilities Summary

By designing each of the three clusters with the same 20-person capacity, it is possible to simultaneous schedule recitations into any two of the clusters, while ensuring that the third is available for independent student work. By selecting cluster designs that, while agile, are each best-tuned for different use cases, it is possible to have space that is well-tuned for the need, without having to design for certain uses and neglect others. This is especially true when viewed in the context of the Citadel Commons as a first-class collaboration-centered space.

The four existing oversized study carrels are incorporated into the new space design. Each carrel provides seating for 5-10 people, 1-2 tables, a whiteboard, and a great view of campus to the east. Each will continue to provide semi-private break-out spaces for study groups, project groups, individuals, student meetings, and TA office hours.

Thanks to the the central location, spanning from the building's main "Warner-Cyert courtyard" entrance to the north and the "Pausch bridge" entrance to the south, the space will be both accessible to those coming from any location and a centerpiece for campus, including those visiting the "Pausce Bridge/Gates" stop along campus tours. For those coming from different floors within the building, the space is also adjacent to the east stair case and the "Helix" continuous ramp, which provides access to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors.

Taken together, the space provided along the newly re-envisioned undergraduate corridor includes first-class support for a wide variety of use cases, inspiring views, tons of natural light, a wide, unifying corridor to facilitate circulation, and easy accessibility. The commons area is designed to support collaboration-centered use cases, whereas 5205 will remain an instructor-focused space, 5208 and 5210 will provide balanced spaces that support both collaboration and instructor-led presentations, and the carrels will provide semi-private break-out space for groups.

Transition/Construction Plan

  • The Citadel Commons opened on September 12th, 2014.
  • November 7th, GHC 5201 and GHC 5208 are shutdown for construction. GHC 3000 is transisitoned from an unreservable "open lab" into a stand-in for GHC 5201. Recitations proceed as normal. GHC 5208 has been off-line for reservations. Casual users transition to other clusters.
  • GHC 5208 and GHC 5201 will reopen on December 18th, 2014. GHC 5201 will be renumbered GHC 5210 (5201 was actually a typo in the original plan! We are correcting it now.)
  • Revisions to GHC 5205 will occur prior to the start of classes on January 10th, 2014.
  • Official Grand opening in January. Beginning in spring, GHC 3000 and GHC 5205 are open labs (GHC 5205 replacing GHC 5208 in this role). Recitations held in GHC 5208 and GHC 5210 (and GHC 5205, before noon).

Renderings, Drawings, and Photos

The renderings below shows the new corridor layout:

Below are the drawings and renderings for GHC 5208+10:

Below are the drawings and renderings for GHC 5205:

If you happen to be looking to compare, these are the previously posted pre-construction renderings and construction photos of the Citadel Teaching Commons:

Thank you!

On behalf of the requirements, design, and construction commitees, it is my pleasure to thank you, very, very much for your continued participation in the process. We look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to call (8-1590) or email (gkesden@cs) me anytime.

Thanks again!

Gregory Kesden
Director, Educational Computing
Coordinator, Teaching Assistant Programs
School of Computer Science