Oct. 9, 2013

Clark Hall has new study, classroom spaces

New classrooms and study spaces are now open in Clark Hall, allowing more collaborative work areas for students and faculty.

The space, which formerly housed the Clark Physical Sciences Library, is now called the Clark Hall Learning Suite and officially opened in September after a renovation. It includes four new classrooms, as well as a new study area and common area for students. New tables, chairs and carpeting give the area a refreshed look. Upgrades were also made to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

“The new atrium in the Physical Sciences Building is beautiful and well-used, but it’s a noisy environment,” said Erich Mueller, associate professor of physics and a member of the planning committee for the new space. “Students really covet their quiet, and we needed a space like that here.”

Librarians will also soon be back in their offices in 283 Clark. They’re currently reachable through the Physical Sciences Library website for questions and research help, and they will stay reachable online as well. Specialized databases, e-books, e-journals and much more are available through the site.

The new classrooms feature flexible seating and tables so that students can work in small groups on discussions or problem solving, said Jeevak Parpia, chair of the physics department.

“The new classrooms will enable us to engage students in new ways,” he said. “The department is excited by their potential.”

Physics is one of two Cornell departments participating in a five-year pilot implementing the “flipped classroom” model advocated by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman. In this model, traditional lectures are replaced by homework assignments that help students learn new information, while class time focuses on applying the new knowledge via problem solving and reasoning practice.

The new Clark Hall space eventually will house eight classrooms set up for small group work. And although the physics department is managing the classroom space and plans to use the rooms frequently, other departments are welcome as long as space and time permit.

The renovations were made possible through the generous donations of Ruth Lasof.

Gwen Glazer is the staff writer/editor for Cornell University Library, and Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.