Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

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September 04, 2014


Hunt Library Takes Leap Toward Modern Learning Commons

Hunt Library has been a collaborative learning hub since it was built in 1961. This year, new design studios and lab spaces are taking that collaborative 
experience to the next level, as Hunt 
becomes host to the university’s Integrative Design, Arts and Technology program (IDeATe).

The library has reconfigured its main floor and lower level to support students and faculty working together across disciplines in IDeATe’s “maker” experiences that combine arts and technology through 30 new studio-based courses.

The program builds on decades of CMU’s success in the arts and technology to facilitate collaborative learning experiences for students from any 
discipline. These types of working experiences will help prepare the students to meet the growing demand for professionals in the creative industries, such as social media, game design and responsive environments.

“The placement of the IDeATe facility in Hunt Library is part of an overall plan for the evolution of the library into a 21st century, mediated learning commons,” said Thanassis Rikakis, CMU’s provost for design, arts and technology. “A key aspect of integrative design is bringing together diverse teams to solve complex problems, and no university is better positioned than Carnegie Mellon to address the demand for professionals in this area.”

Visitors to the library will notice two large design studios have been constructed on the main floor that now serve as IDeATe’s primary classrooms. Glass partitions provide a glimpse into the goings-on without distracting those nearby who are seeking quieter study. When not in use for classes, the studios are open to the public.

Downstairs on the lower level are the less publicly accessible — and soundproofed — fabrication, multimedia and physical computing labs.

The digital and standard fabrication labs are equipped for 3-D printing in plastic; laser-cutting in wood, plastic, matboard and cardboard; and computer numerical controlled (CNC) routing in wood, plastic and foam.

In the media lab, students can experiment with multimedia and performance. In the physical computing lab, they can explore interactive digital media, programmable electronics and robotics.

“The idea is not just to teach a student how to, for example, use a 3-D printer, but to teach students who have different backgrounds and skillsets how to talk to each other,” said IDeATe Project Manager Ben Peoples (A’02).

Keith Webster, dean of university libraries, wants to assure the community that those involved are not engaged in dismantling the function of the library 
in its traditional sense, but rather adding to it.

“We’re responding to the needs of a new generation of students who are using libraries in different ways in high school and want to continue to do that when they arrive at the university,” 
Webster said.

Webster noted that libraries across the country are creating maker spaces like this to reflect the way in which libraries are available to support digital media in all its forms.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for Hunt Library to serve as a connector between faculty, students, technology and knowledge,” Webster said.

By: Kelly Saavedra,