Javits Renovations Increase Accessibility, Technology and Collaboration

Students saw a return to in-person large lectures this fall with the reopening of the Jacob K. Javits Lecture Center, which underwent a major, $38M interior renovation that began in 2021.

The upgrades to the 1968 building include a full-scale rehabilitation of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection to bring the building up to date and up to current code requirements.

Electrical ramps are now featured in every lecture classroom for increased accessibility, along with accessible seating pathways. The new, larger elevator is ADA compliant.

Javits lecture hall
Javits lecture hall.

The classrooms — of which there are four small, two medium, and one large — feature dual projection so that an instructor may show multiple forms of content simultaneously, such as slides, annotation software or remote participants. In the medium and large rooms, edge blending projection technology allows instructors to unify one image across two projectors for an expanded image.

In addition to the lecture-style classrooms, a new active learning room allows instructors to utilize flexible seating and multiple screens for group classwork following lectures and discussions.

“Our teams implemented updated technology to enhance teaching and learning environments while the interior spaces underwent a rejuvenation process, resulting in a more contemporary feel,”  said William Herrmann, vice president for Facilities and Services. “We are delighted to announce this renovation project exceeds ADA standards, including a new elevator, chairlifts in all of the lecture halls, automatic door openers and several enhanced accessibility features throughout the building.”

A feedback committee of faculty and students indicated that a lack of signage was a concern since the building is symmetrical and rooms look the same, so the renovated Lecture Center features large, color-coded signs showing classroom numbers, and the assigned room color is featured throughout the inside of the classroom. Exit points are clearly noted with the campus location closest to the exit.

Javits study area
Second floor study area.

The second floor, an area formerly used for offices, has been redesigned as student collaboration space, including an area available for light snacks with vending machines, microwaves, and cafeteria-style booths. Students may study or work in groups in the other areas that feature collaboration screens to work on group projects. In one of the areas is a phonebooth-type privacy space that students may use for phone calls or video meetings.

“The Javits Lecture Center is part of Stony Brook’s history, and refreshing the central lecture center updates the facility for a new generation of faculty and students,” said Jarrod McFarlane, director of Classroom Technology and Support Solutions. “From a classroom technology perspective, we applied industry standards to the designs, prioritizing a scalable infrastructure, multiple screens, and maximizing sightlines inside the constraints of walls and floors that were not moving as part of the project.  Improvements like electricity at every lecture hall seat, an active learning classroom run by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), and the creation on the second floor of informal ‘neighborhoods’ with furniture geared towards collaboration, study, or light snacking benefit the student experience.”

For many, the biggest question was whether the Javits Center still holds the distinction of no 90 degree angles other than doors, and the answer to that question is yes, the renovations stay true to the character of the building.

— Beth Squire

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