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Learning by Design

09.30.2014

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Creating a Community Through Design
 

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

This quote from Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro reflects the state of mind of the students and faculty at the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, as we experience our new Green Lane academic building (GLAB), a space designed to foster collaboration and interactivity. The new state-of-the-art facility provokes, delights, surprises, and most importantly, educates.

The GLAB is home to the University’s Robert Busch School of Design (RBSD), School of Global Business, and the newly CREATING A COMMUNITY THROUGH formed Michael Graves School of Architecture. The building was designed by Kenneth A. Gruskin, AIA, founder of Gruskin Group (Gruskin Architecture + Design, P.C.), a design firm based in Springfield, New Jersey.

Before January 2014, the RBSD was housed in a 1970s structure on campus for more than 30 years. The interior and graphic design programs were located on the same floor at opposite ends of the building.

The industrial design program was, and remains, housed in an auxiliary building on campus with studio and maker spaces. Aside from monthly faculty meetings, weeks could go by without seeing a design colleague outside of your discipline. Consciously or not, faculty and students were internalizing how the former space was telling us how to work. The environment was uninspiring, static, and encouraged faculty and students to work in individual silos.

The new GLAB has provided the opportunity to work as, and feel like, a team, a remarkable change from the old facilities. Faculty offices are now located in a long, open corridor with walls made of glass. The increased visibility to each other, as well as to students, has in turn increased collaboration, accessibility, and interactivity. As Dr. Mike Schmoker, former school administrator and author of numerous books and articles on education, states “collaboration allows teachers to capture each other’s fund of collective intelligence.” The space-planning and overall design of the new GLAB has increased the opportunity to interact, collaborate, and experience the value of collective intelligence.

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