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
Sponsors and Liasons
May 1, 2015
Fall 2014 welcomed the opening of the instantly famous Citadel Teaching Commons, with its panoramic view of the Pausch lighted bridge and east campus, collaborative tables, agile bar seating, monster whiteboards, ubiquitous power, and bleeding-edge high-speed Wi-Fi. Spring 2015 welcomed the new Citadel Collaborative Clusters and Citadel High-Performance Cluster. As of May 1st, the project is complete!
With Citadel's help, a unified student-centered collaborating, computing, teaching, and learning space has replaced a fragmented landscape of labs, offices, and carrels.
This project was 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.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 was a tremendous day. A team from Citadel, headed by current CIO, Joe Squeri, and recently retired CIO, Tom Minglis, joined Carnegie Mellon's Executive Vice-President John Lehoczky, Andrew Moore, the Dean of the School of Computer Science, and the Carnegie Mellon community at large in celebrating both the transformation of the educational space and the growing CMU-Citadel partnership. It was an exciting day, capped with a short ceremony and great festivities.
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+5210 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. Spring 2015 welcomes the Citadel Collaborative Clusters and the Citadel High-Performance Cluster.
The Citadel Collaborative Clusters: GHC 5208 and 5210
The Citadel Collaborative clusters open on the first day of spring classes -- January 12, 2015. The buzz words here are "Integrated human-centered collaborative technology enabled space." You'll grow to love the buzzwords. Really! Want to have some fun? Check out the movie or the photostream (external)
The old instructor-facing rows have been replaced with an open table-based layout. The new layout supports the rapid forming and breaking of collaborative pairs and small groups with the goal of enabling people to focus on each other and their shared endeavors. The table-based layout, as compared to the row-based layout, yields more usuable workspace with more open floorspace.
The tables themselves are an amazing piece of human centered technology. They are manufactured by miSeat -- and we are their first large production deployment in the world. They use a center-core design, rather than side legs. The result is the ability for people to sit on any of the four sides, or even the four corners -- without table legs in the way.
The resident computing comes in the form of the new Dell 9020 Micro workstations -- the smallest, high-performance workstations out there. All the power of a workstation -- in a NUC-like form factor. But, you are going to have to trust on this -- because they are fully embedded in the desk core. They can't be seen. They can't be heard. You just have to intuit that they are there. But, of course, the audio jack is embedded in the desk edge, so you get your tunes. And, USB ports are available on the screens.
And, the screens are also pretty amazing. The large, high-res NEC panels are on fully articulating Knoll arms -- they can be moved all around to suit your needs, whether working along or with collaborators.
The desk surfaces are, themselves, the best part. Hidden beneath their slick, smooth, soda-proof surface, lies tap-technology keyboards, high-accuracy trackpads, Qi-compatible cellphone charging, and NFC authentication. They tap-technology keybaords and trackpads may take some getting used to -- but they offer a clean, cable-free surface, so you can use the resident technology -- or have plenty of room with nothing encumbering a clean desk for your laptop/tablet and/or books. And, speaking of those laptops/tablets, A/C power is provided and easily accessible under the table surface at every seat. (And, yes, for caffeine-enfused high-speed hacking, you can still plug in your favorite keyboard and maybe even use one of ours).
Let's not forget the A/V upgrade that matches, your laptop, whiteboards all around -- and the old, fixed 4-point chairs have been replaced with full adjustable 5-point star-base chairs.
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 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 5205 reopened 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 is more shoulder and legroom and none of the dreaded "desk leg straddling" seats. 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. And, power outlets are ubiquitous and at every desktop.
AV System Upgrades
GHC 5205, 5208, and 5210 all reopened with a new, full digital AV kit. HDMI is 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.
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 is 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 remains an instructor-focused space, 5208 and 5210 provide balanced spaces that support both collaboration and instructor-led presentations, and the carrels provide semi-private break-out space for groups.
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:
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.