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IdeaLabs look at present practice to imagine the future together

Series kicks off longer-term fine arts space planning discussion with faculty, staff and students
November 2, 2018
By Kenneth Gibson

First Idealab session October 23. First Idealab session October 23.

If you’ve ever wanted to have a say in what the Faculty of Fine Arts will look like in 2030, now is your chance.
The Faculty has started a planning exercise with Facilities Management to consult with students, staff and faculty on use of its existing spaces over the next 10 years.
“It’s imperative that we listen to those people who are in our current spaces,” says Breanna Shanahan, an MFA Sculpture student who is coordinating IdeaLabs 2018, a series of feedback sessions designed to gather input from the community on the use of Faculty space.
Three IdeaLabs are taking place during the Fall semester. Each features an hour of micro-presentations of ongoing Faculty work followed by a second hour of open discussion that uses present practice to help inform future spatial configurations. Topics for the sessions revolve around concepts rather than specific spaces: Experimental Pedagogy, Research-Creation, and STEAM.  
“We wanted to see how ideas from all departments could overlap and interweave. It’s more about how we work and what we desire than targeting specific rooms or buildings.”

‘Students already defy these spaces’

The university seeks to better understand user experiences in their space, unearth new trends users would like to expand on, and spot commonalities across all nine of the fine arts departments.
“Students literally live and breathe in these buildings,” says Shanahan. “IdeaLabs offer a platform where the administration and facilities management is present so we are all able to speak face to face.”

During each session, ideas presented by participants will be recorded and used as direct qualitative data that will contribute to future decision making.
“Students already defy these spaces and it is in hearing their pertinent and contemporary experiences and ideas that we can adjust to suit them and open our spaces to more advancements for the future,” says Shanahan.
“What is working? What is not? Students know, and the faculty and space planners want to hear it.”

‘The ideas are mind-blowingly original’

The first IdeaLab took place October 23rd and examined the use of space through the lens of experimental pedagogy. User-generated ideas and examples of real activity allowed people not only to reimagine classroom acoustics or the shapes of rooms, or how to better harness natural light and revitalize the notion of public space, but the conversation also seriously addressed questions of access, belonging, community, equality, and comfort.
“More than just ideas and information are conveyed in the labs. They represent a spirit of educational exchange that is beautifully and passionately demonstrated by our community. This series is curated by students, filled with content from across the Faculty, and then exploded once the conversation begins! We have no idea what will emerge. The ideas generated, taken in sum, are mind-blowingly original,” says Duclos.

The remaining two IdeaLab sessions will take place on November 5th from 4:00-6:00 pm and in VA 313 and November 15th 4:00-6:00 pm in 4th Space.

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