Furniture fair gathers feedback for the Academic Commons project
February 15, 2012
By: Staff

BenFunk2012.jpgParticipants got the chance to touch, sit on and examine more than 60 pieces of furniture, including task chairs, lounge chairs, stools, tables and booths. Photo courtesy of Penrose Library.

Dozens of University of Denver students, faculty and staff made their way to the Ritchie Center Feb. 7–8 for a two-day “furniture fair,” helping to pick the pieces that will fill the Academic Commons.

Participants got the chance to touch, sit on and examine more than 60 pieces of furniture, including task chairs, lounge chairs, stools, tables and booths. They then rated each piece on criteria including durability, comfort and aesthetics, providing some interesting comments along the way.

“This chair makes me feel free,” said one student about a particularly versatile and comfortable lounge chair.

“This chair reminds me of East Germany,” noted another, reflecting on a heavy, square chair in a navy-blue fabric.

Some students took the time to rate and comment on every piece.

“I observed many students spending over an hour giving detailed feedback,” said Erin Meyer, student outreach librarian. “We really value their input and will use it to help make decisions about furniture throughout the building. We hope to engage the campus community in similar ways over the next few months as other elements of the building and services are finalized.”

The Academic Commons project is an 18-month, $32 million overhaul of the old Penrose Library. The renovation will transform the building into a facility that accommodates the new ways students and faculty gather, share information and work collaboratively. The update also will allow scholars to combine research based on books and journals with online scholarly communication and digitized primary resources.

Not all of the furniture in the Academic Commons will be new, though. Some of the pieces from the old building will be cleaned or refurbished and reused in the facility, so the new and old pieces will need to complement one another.

“We are reusing quality pieces with a lot of life left in them, such as study tables, as well as bringing back several signature midcentury modern pieces, including the egg chair and the small white bubble chairs,” says Library Dean and Director Nancy Allen. “This helps us better manage project resources and earns us points towards the LEED Gold standard we are aiming for with the new building.”

In all, more than 130 10-page surveys were completed at the furniture fair. The project’s furniture consultant will compile the data and share it with library administrators in the coming weeks.

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