The Campus Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is set to open for the Fall 2021 semester, following the completion of a $75 million public-private partnership project.
Located at the southeast corner of Springfield Avenue and Wright Street in Urbana, the 124,000 square foot building will add 23 instructional classrooms and 2,400 seats designed for active learning. Every undergraduate college and 36 different departments will have at least one class in this facility.
Featuring mobile seating, increased writing surfaces and enhanced teaching technologies, the 23 new IFLEX active learning classrooms are an important indicator of the commitment the university has been making toward student success over the last several years.
“Active learning strategies have long been tied to increased retention and improved learning outcomes,” said Ava Wolf, assistant director of Teaching and Learning Environments at the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning. “But when these practices are delivered in classrooms where students can work easily in groups, move around, show what they know on whiteboards and share digital technology, we see increases in engagement, collaboration and levels of satisfaction that just don’t happen as often in traditional classrooms.”
These types of learning classrooms and experiences translate into improvements in the ability to apply new concepts, solve difficult problems and work effectively in teams.
“The classroom doesn’t teach the class, but we know that the design of a classroom definitely influences the type of teaching and learning that goes on there,” said Wolf. “The active learning classrooms at the Campus Instructional Facility are part of the campus mission to offer students the highest quality learning experiences possible.”
The building is anticipated to be designated as LEED Platinum, the highest certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The east and west sides of the building feature windows made of smart glass technology that controls incoming light. Originally developed by an Illinois research team, this glass is used in only two buildings in the state of Illinois.
The Student Sustainability Committee provided funding to help build the geothermal energy system, including 40 boreholes installed on the Bardeen Quad. These measures will supply the building with the equivalent of almost 65 percent of the total building energy demand, helping to conserve energy and reduce costs in the long term.
The building also features portraits of notable university alumni, selected by a student committee, on the walls of each of the five floors.
“Providing transformative teaching and learning experiences requires innovative instructional facilities for our students and our faculty,” Provost Andreas Cangellaris said. “The Campus Instructional Facility will inspire and enable innovations in interactive and immersive learning that promotes collaboration and teamwork among our students.”