Impact on Learning
San Jacinto College
PROJECT: Lee Davis and Parker Williams Libraries
INSTITUTION: San Jacinto College
LOCATION: Houston, TX
COMPANY NAME: Mohawk Group
Based in and around Houston, San Jacinto College has a history of using innovative methods to support student success. In the renovation of two of its libraries, the college sought to infuse the buildings with this same energy and support. According to the project designer, Theodora Batchvarova, with Gensler, renovations were certainly needed to update systems and infrastructure, but more than that, they were needed to create “a new experience of the learning commons.” San Jacinto wanted libraries that provided not just tools for academic success but also places for students to gather and be inspired and energized toward reaching their goals.
The Lee Davis and Parker Williams Libraries at San Jacinto College needed to be reenergized as inviting learning commons; places where students could locate a variety of resources and gather as a community. Carpet from Mohawk Group aids design and performance by providing a bold visual that will stay looking fresh, aiding wayfinding and enhancing the acoustics of large, open areas.
At both the Lee Davis Library and the Parker Williams Library, Batchvarova uses bold colors and innovative graphic elements to define different areas “and spark curiosity.” Toward those aims, she selected carpet tile from Mohawk Group’s State of Mind Collection. State of Mind offers graphic impact with striated patterns that produce an orderly yet edgy design. Batchvarova employs the carpet’s linear energy to guide students into and through the libraries, while changes in pattern and color delineate spaces and assist with wayfinding.
The carpet’s acoustic properties provide privacy for small group work by reducing noise and distraction in the libraries’ large, open areas and the vibrant color and permanent, inherent stain protection provided by the carpet’s Duracolor fiber will preserve the inviting appearance of the libraries for future students. In design and performance, Batchvarova notes, “We, as well as the client, have been very happy with the carpet and will be using it on a third library for San Jacinto College.”
IMPACT ON LEARNING
Since the renovations, Batchvarova says, “The library has become a favorite gathering and studying place for the students.” These new learning commons are packed with resources for academic growth and areas for students to work independently or together. The libraries serve to foster a community of support and motivation for San Jacinto’s students. Toward this point, Batchvarova shares what one student wrote on a library whiteboard — “This is a home, not a school.”
According to the International Association of Color Consultants/Designers– North America (IACCNA), a school’s physical environment has a powerful psycho-physiological impact on its students. The careful selection and installation of carpet options in this project in order to energize facility occupants, delineate space and contribute to aspects of wayfinding and acoustics will have a positive impact on the students that use these spaces. Studies confirm that students that are comfortable in their physical environments perform better and learn and retain more successfully.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.