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The new building comes complete with a suite of new learning tools, from conference rooms to virtual reality. Photo: Christine Wang.

New campus building promises interdisciplinary space, reduced crowding

Despite missing its planned Jan. 8 launch date, the construction behind Lamoureux Hall will soon conclude. In an email to the Fulcrum, representatives from the University of Ottawa’s Facilities Department described the building, officially designated as the “Learning Crossroads,” as a space to promote collaboration between student and faculties.

Facilities also explained that the Crossroads is designed to incorporate non-traditional methods. The classic banks of silent study cubicles are still present, but the building also has numerous collaborative study rooms and a wealth of integrated technologies to promote active learning.

In some cases these are incremental upgrades over what students have come to expect out of our facilities; dim projectors have been replaced with high definition video displays, and desks have been designed for laptop use with additional plugs and ports.

Some other rooms are far more innovative, allowing collaboration through dozens of networked tablets and writable walls. According to the U of O’s library website, a  virtual reality facility and 3D printing bay are also planned, which would allow students new ways to interact with their fields of study both visually and physically.

Omar Jaitley, a third-year biology student, provided an example he used during an anatomy course. “I had this kind of mental block understanding all the parts (of the heart), and my roommate is talking about the makerspace he was at,” he explained. “I decided to have some fun with it, found this model of a heart online and printed it out. So I could sit there and play with this little plastic heart and disassemble it and see inside.”

Jaitley hopes that the learning centre’s resources will encourage students to take advantage of some new study techniques.

Jaitley continues, “you have all this new technology, but most courses are still just, sit down and take notes and read them over …  I hope having some of these tools more accessible means profs will use them more.”

While some students wait patiently for access to these interactive learning tools, for many the appeal of Crossroads is far more straightforward.

“This campus is packed. You have so many students here without the campus to support them all. Just having some study space would be great,” said Jacky Chen, a fourth-year computer engineering student.

Chen continues, “It actually gets so bad that I sometimes go to study at Carleton, and half the people in the library are Gee-Gees because they can’t find space here.”

According to the U of O facilities web page, while the date of completion has not yet been set, the Learning Crossroads will be available to students this semester, aiming to solve problems of overcrowding.

The Learning Crossroads is expected to be open to the public for use within the next eight weeks.