The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign enlisted Cordogan Clark & Associates as architects to renovate first floor public space and several highly used classrooms in the Loomis Laboratory of Physics building. These areas dated from the building's original construction in the late 1950's. In addition to updating them, our goal was to create a more inviting atmosphere conducive to education by making these spaces, which mostly serve first year physics students, brighter and more open. New technology and life safety devices were also incorporated, hidden from view but easily accessible.
Loomis's double loaded corridor, known as the "Walnut Corridor," provides access between the main entrance and classrooms. The new design pays respect to the original Walnut Corridor by using a walnut panel finish for the new walls and bringing this panel system into the design of the window and classroom door framing. This renovation improves the classrooms while introducing gathering spaces along the corridor for smaller informal meetings and discussions among students and faculty. These enliven the long corridor and provide important educational spaces outside the classrooms. Windows were also added to allow visual interaction between the corridor and learning spaces as well as to brighten them. The window pattern for the two larger classrooms follows the Fibonacci Sequence, an important and familiar number pattern that pervades the physical and natural world. This creates a playful and lively design with an educational feature. By creating brighter and more open spaces with new, integrated classroom technology, the architecture provides an enhanced learning environment with subtle reminders that Science is Fun!