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New and Improved: The Student Computing Support Center

You won't recognize the new Student Computing Support Center, located in Horace Mann room 242, now that the renovations are completed. It opened on February 7th.

The changes are obvious as soon as you cross the threshold of the room. The entrance foyer has a lowered ceiling over its oval helpdesk. After walking past the curved desk, the new lab visually opens up with a higher ceiling with a serpentine soffitted curve, designed by Loffredo Brooks Architects P.C.

Beginning in the fall semester, the computer room was completely gutted in preparation for its metamorphosis. In the 1960s the space was converted from regular classrooms to a computer lab. The new room has "more computers, better lighting, heating and cooling, and new furniture with twice the amount of desk space," said Vince Del Bagno, Director of Capital Projects.

Each individually fabricated workstation, with its brand new computers and flat-panel monitors, is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible with curved partitions that echo the detail in the ceiling. "These curves are the visual components that pull the room together and makes it look less narrow without decreasing the space," said Del Bagno. "All the curves in the room-the ceiling, the helpdesk and the partitions-knit together."

The lighting fixtures over the workstations provide light reflected off the ceiling, rather than direct down light, which creates glare. In addition, the windows have sunscreen shades, which are semi-opaque to block the sun glare while preserving the view, which is one of the nicest on campus.

"The new lab is great, it has good lighting and ventilation and enough space for people to work," said Tamo Chattopadhay, who is a doctoral candidate in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies. "Not only do the computers work faster, but it's cheerful and happy as well."

About one-quarter of the space is separated by a glass partition for visual and, primarily, acoustic reasons. This will maintain the openness of the space, yet allow students to gather for group work and converse without disturbing the rest of the people in the room.

"It's beautiful and nice with a lot more room," said Lisa Weinwurm, a student in the department of Health Education.

The renovations included new air conditioning and heating systems. The old room had a broken central air conditioning system and relied on steam heat and window air conditioners. In the past, the only way to regulate the heat was to open the windows-this left the computers open to damage by the soot and dust in the air. Now, students will be able to work in a controlled, comfortable environment. The Lab is open seven days a week, including some holidays, until 11:30pm on weekdays and until 10:00pm on the weekends.

"We are excited to be able to meet our students' need for a larger computing lab with a space that is both highly functional and beautiful," said Ena Haines, Director of Information Technology.

This facility assists the learning of a very large percentage of TC's students. Del Bagno noted that this project could not have been accomplished, at this time, with Teachers College resources. The Oceanic Heritage Foundation, as a demonstration of its commitment to education, made the renovations possible. Thanks to the Oceanic Heritage Foundation, this dream lab, with its attention to architectural detail and aesthetics, is now a reality for TC students.

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