Monthly Archives: August 2017

Why a Smart Workspace is the Biggest Recruiting Tool for Top Talent

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Some firms offer laundry service; others offer child care. When it comes to finding ways to recruit top talent in today’s competitive market, ideas abound. But one of the best (and most overlooked) recruiting tools is a workspace that’s hip and inviting — both outside and in.

Open office designs look great, but they create distraction and noise. You might want to live in an airy loft, but that doesn’t mean you should work in one with 200 of your coworkers. The original concept of open office designs was to promote collaboration and decrease costs for employers, who could fit more employees in smaller spaces and save on cubicle walls. But, as Google learned, the benefits of open collaboration are outweighed by the negative effect on performance.

How does a company attract top talent and maintain a productive office? Cool office space is an advantage, but functional work space is a necessity. Instead of open office designs, consider collaboration spaces that promote creativity and allow impromptu sharing of data through smartboards and surface projectors.

A flexible work environment, including allowing people to work remotely, is both a perk for current employees and a recruitment tool for prospective employees. This fact drives the need for collaborative rooms, because remote workers will be coming and going from the office space.

Huddle rooms, workspace pods, and phone booths are required for times that one needs uninterrupted silence for focus. Likewise, an impressive entryway and reception area are important and should be designed with the goal of helping the new recruit understand your product, work style and philosophy.

The new workplace experience — the kind that attracts top talent — also includes easy access to data in and out of the office, ease of scheduling office resources like AVUITY’s Conference Room Kiosk, sustainability initiatives, and modern, comfortable furniture.

When it comes to physical location, the smartest firms look at office space close to public transit or urban historic areas slated for redevelopment. For example, in Cincinnati, the Over the Rhine neighborhood is one of the largest urban historic districts in the country and now attracts creative agencies, tech startups and other firms who know that place is as important as space.

In these ways and many more, flexible, functional workspaces become both an employee perk and a tool to recruit top talent. AVUITY can help.

Part II: Today’s Academic Libraries Meet the Needs of All Stakeholders

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Academic libraries support the research and educational activities of higher institutions through the sharing of information. However, today’s method of sharing information is constantly evolving. Because of changing technology, academic libraries struggle to meet the needs of their many stakeholders. The challenge they face is finding the balance between housing information while creating spaces conducive to today’s learners. Part I of this two-part article addressed how to find the library’s purpose in today’s learning environment, while Part II covers how to create spaces that include all stakeholders in any renovation or new design of an academic library.


Key Stakeholders

Originally, a library’s first design was based on the technology, study habits and research methodologies of the time. As these elements continue to change, so, too, must the library to remain a relevant contributor to campus life. For this reason, discussions about redefining and redesigning a library need to include and encourage participation from those who use the library, including faculty, staff, students and external community members and program sponsors.

In 2012, with this framework in mind, the library at Columbus State Community College (CSCC) in Ohio underwent a renovation. During the planning of this renovation, key stakeholders were asked to participate in focus groups, surveys and one-on-ones to provide input into the redesign. “Our goal was to make the building accessible to these diverse groups for all their unique needs,” said Bruce Massis, director of libraries for CSCC.

In the process, CSCC officials discovered the stakeholders wanted a combination of technology and quiet study areas, so ultimately the library was renovated to accommodate this mix.

On the other hand, not all stakeholder requests can (or should) be honored.  “That’s a bit of a stretch,” said Rebecca Lubas, associate dean, Claremont Colleges Library. “We didn’t completely ignore that suggestion though. We have a treadmill standing desk, and it’s enormously popular.”

Strike a Balance

One of the biggest challenges in designing or redesigning academic libraries is determining how much of the current collection will remain on the library floor. The importance of the browsing experience should be weighed with the value of the space occupied by rarely circulated books. While many alternatives exist for storing older resources, it is important to consider the desires of faculty who may oppose removing books.

“We go to the faculty first and tell them we’re considering removing these books from the shelves. Sometimes we keep the older material on the shelf because they still want it,” said Massis.

Current technology may alleviate some of these issues. Because CSCC is a member of Ohio’s Academic Library Consortium, OhioLINK, its students and faculty have access to a larger number of books and electronic resources than what CSCC can offer at its library.

Ultimately, the solution lies in the library’s intrinsic qualities and how it serves its key stakeholders. “It’s a matter of meeting expectations and recognizing that expectations will change over time,” said Tonya Fawcett, director of library services at Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Ind. “When you come into a library, you expect to see books. You expect to have librarians to help you find the resources you’re looking for and help you understand how to use those resources. And you expect to have a comfortable place to go to be able to interact with those resources.”

Leadership’s Role

Two additional groups of stakeholders need to be included in an academic library design or renovation. The first is the college administartors. Their role is to analyze the institution’s mission and vision to determine the library’s specific intent. For example, if the library is supposed to be more student-friendly than scholarly, the purpose of the library becomes more social. This core purpose is then translated into the library’s physical space through more group and collaboration areas.

The final group of stakeholders is the library staff leadership — those responsible for taking the lead in creating and sustaining an academic library’s mission. “Whatever the program is, what’s the end goal? Are we supporting students in their studying? Are we supporting faculty to improve their teaching or assist their latest research searches? We need to keep our eyes on the academic mission of the institution and make sure the library supports that mission,” said Lubas.

By ensuring the mission is reinforced in meaningful ways through technology advances and how people interact, academic library leadership can balance the requirements of all stakeholders.

Tom Sens is a client leader on the higher education team at BHDP Architecture, an international design firm that focuses on creating innovative environments and experiences tailored to the client culture and work process.

Part II: Today’s Academic Libraries Meet the Needs of All Stakeholders – School Construction News

Academic libraries support the research and educational activities of higher institutions through the sharing of information. However, today’s method of sharing information is constantly evolving. Because of changing technology, academic libraries struggle to meet the needs of their many stakeholders. The challenge they face is finding the balance between housing information while creating spaces conducive to today’s learners.

Breaking Silos: Converting a Library Into a Research Commons

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Written Erin Poland and Mike Schulte

library into research commons

Space flexibility was one of the key project goals for the Research Commons in the 18th Avenue Library at Ohio State University in Columbus.


What type of academic space encourages students from different disciplines to brainstorm, study and innovate in one another’s company? This was the question put to team members who worked on the new Research Commons in the 18th Avenue Library at Ohio State University in Columbus. The goal was to create a highly flexible environment capable of leveraging the latest technology while fostering discovery, education and innovation.

The resulting design was the product of a collaborative planning process that involved the newly formed Research Commons staff, researchers, the architect, and technology consultants. At workshops, project stakeholders and the design team developed the project vision and key goals through the use of discussions, pin-ups, and key word grouping. These brainstorming sessions enabled the team to establish a vision and articulate five underlying goals for the project.

Five key principles

A little more than a year since opening, the Research Commons is exceeding its operational goals. Five driving principles set the stage for construction and enabled the design team to create the ideal space, systems and technology:

  • Flexibility to accommodate  students at all hours. The Research  Commons, situated  in a 24-hour student library, aims to provide open, collaborative, and flexible space and furniture to support intense graduate research during the day and quiet undergraduate academic study at night.
  • Creative outlets to encourage serendipity between disciplines. This means open space with technology and writable surfaces to encourage the melding of ideas, research, and practice between disciplines that don’t commonly
  • Purposeful design. The space was built to accommodate technology-based projects. So, it had to advance the university’s dedication to cutting-edge research and recruitment ofworld­ class faculty and students. Since the Research Commons opened, the university hired a digital humanities librarian, an applications developer, a data services specialist, and a research impact librarian, among others.
  • Blending technology and architecture. The seamless incorporation of technology with the architecture enables exploration and the sharing of ideas through a variety of high-tech and interactive tools.
  • Breaking the mold. The aim was to deliver an inspirational, diverse, and active space that diverges from the typical academic library design, in an effort to drive interdisciplinary innovation and research

The Research Commons in use

The Research Commons sought to look beyond the usual disciplinary silos and create an environment that works for everyone. Starting with a tight budget-one third of which had to be spent on technology-the project could have ended up simply as a place to house and use technology. But because of the collaboration it invites through thoughtful design, the space has turned out to be much more.

“Today, the flexibility of our space has helped us to think creatively about the ongoing evolution of our services in new and exciting directions that address emerging needs around campus,” says Joshua Sadvari, Research Commons Program Manager and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist for OSU.

GIS Day 2016, held in the Research Commons, illustrated the design’s potential. A hands-on workshop in the computer lab was followed by a series of lightning talks in the colloquia space. Then, attendees moved into the brainstorming spaces to see exhibits of maps and to talk with GIS professionals from around campus.

“We had over 100 attendees throughout the day from across campus and from the local community,” says Sadvari, “and we were able to do so many different things because of the variety of spaces available to us.”

ohio state library research commons

An overview of flexible spaces in the 18th Avenue Library Research Commons at the Ohio State University.

Another notable event was the Narrative Medicine/Disability Studies CoLABoratory held in January 2017. Despite no direct involvement of Research Commons staff in organizing the event, it exhibited the high-tech capabilities of the facility and demonstrated the Research Commons usefulness to other campus groups.

The CoLABoratory was held in the Colloquia space, where presentations were delivered on the main projection screen. Meanwhile, two monitors on either side of the main screen were hosting content from different individuals who had wirelessly connected to them from different spots in the room.

One captured comments and ideas from the group throughout the day so that everyone saw a running list of discussion topics for the brainstorming session. The other allowed a Disability Services staff member to transcribe the presentations in real time for deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees.

“We received tremendous feedback from the event organizers about the flexibility and technology that contributed to the success of their event,” Sadvari says.

Feedback gathered from users has been positive. For example, the 2016 spring semester included 23 education and training programs attended by about 500 researchers from across all user levels and from more than 120 different departments and campus units. During that time, 1,445 transactions were recorded from the Research Commons concierge desk (88 percent directional, 12 percent basic reference).

“It is very fulfilling to see the ways graduate students are recognizing the Research Commons as a unique space for their work,” Sadvari says, “and our staff is truly invested in supporting them and making a positive impact in their success as researchers at Ohio State and beyond.”

As an increasing number of libraries are being remodeled, it is clear that they are evolving to adapt to the needs of students, instructors, administrators, and the community. Real estate inside a library-once limited to books-is taking a backseat to meeting and studying space. The Research Commons at the 18th Avenue Library is an example of how collaboration, established goals, and a defined plan can create a campus space that encourages interdisciplinary discovery and innovation.




Erin Poland, NCIDQ, IIDA, LEED AP is a senior interior designer, and Mike Schulte, AJA, NCARB, LEED AP is an architect with BHDP Architecture. Both work primarily in the higher education marketplace. For information, call 614-486-1960 or visit

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