Learn by doing: Cal Poly Students Redesign the Kennedy Library atrium

From Kennedy Library’s 2011 Annual Publication (15.54 MB)

During the spring 2010 quarter, 13 students worked with Kennedy Library Dean Michael D. Miller and Library staff to redesign the Library’s central, outdoor atrium. The students were enrolled in a unique interdisciplinary project delivery course offered by the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) and led by Landscape Architecture instructor David Watts, licensed landscape architect, and Construction Management instructor Nick Watry, licensed architect and engineer.

The course offered students the opportunity to engage in a learn-by-doing project for a real client, from initial design to construction. Throughout the 10 week project, they worked as a team: a team of architects, landscape architects, structural engineers and contractors.

Side Note

The atrium will be constructed utilizing private funds. to find out how you can help, contact Rosey Parks, director of library advancement at 805-756-7367

Students representing several CAED majors listened as Dean Miller conveyed his vision for the Kennedy Library Atrium. The goal was to change the underutilized area, built 30 years ago, from “tired” and “stressed” planting to a “green oasis.” The new design should make the area more conducive to use by students and the entire university community.

Proposed design features included additional seating and better lighting, more electrical outlets and wireless computer connections, and small group gathering spaces. As with all Cal Poly spaces, the new design and construction needs to be sustainable and apply LEED standards.

Like any project, the design had a few complications, team breakdowns, and went a little over budget. But, that's part of the learning process. The feedback from all individuals involved was very positive, including students who said this was one of their best educational experiences at Cal Poly.

As the project continues, students are preparing a set of construction documents, will secure appropriate permits from Facilities Services, and build the project.