April 26, 2018

Interactive Learning Commons for the Digital Age

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), the world’s largest fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, contracted with Barton Malow to build their new Student Union. This 177,000 sf, 4-story landmark that is expected to be the “Center of Campus Life” will foster research, collaboration, discovery and interactive learning for the digital age.

A food court, bookstore, and student services area will make up part of the 1st floor, while the remainder is encompassed by a multipurpose events center with seating for up to 900 people. This area is designed to create a virtual “city within a city” with elevated seating and dividable options for multiple collaborative stations that can be used simultaneously. Interactive office spaces will be located on the 2nd floor, along with group study rooms (imagination stations), computer labs, the Senate chamber, a lounge, exhibit space and a Starbucks, as well as access to an outdoor terrace.


The 3rd and 4th floors will include a technology-rich library with social areas, private study rooms, collaborative workspaces and a number of computer terminals, both inside and outside the library. Technology will be leveraged to create a collaborative work environment that really enhances social learning. The intention is to stimulate critical thinking and encourage students to learn through not only digital but also through interactive techniques. Design and construction features that inspire this are flexibility, agility, connectivity and expansive technology infrastructure. Some major building elements include imagination stations, floating walls, glass panels, and gaming areas throughout. The top floor is also set beneath a dynamic 300-foot arching skylight which opens the sky to the library.

Technology and collaboration can amplify great learning development, and the possibilities are endless. The primary goal of ERAU’s partnership with Barton Malow is to create a new Student Union that ignites interaction, stimulation and ultimately, student success.

“Students don’t live compartmentalized lives where learning happens in one place and living happens in another. By building an expansive environment that recognizes this fact, we can dramatically improve student outcomes,”

Karin Gollin, Executive Director of the student union

Gollin continues, “Students will be able to do research, grab a meal, form a study group, hold a club meeting, enjoy a concert or just relax and make new connections with other students. In this one place, they will have access to the services and experiences they need to be successful.”

Read the full issue of BUILD 18.1 | Higher Education: Research and Collaborative Concepts Bringing Multiple Disciplines Together