McCormick students design cozy collaborative work space for contest


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Main Library. McCormick juniors Danqing Gao and Victoria Wu and senior Vivien Ng said they envisioned “The Nest,” which is set to be in Main Library, as a non-stressful and cozy working space.

Catherine Kim, Campus Editor

Three McCormick students represented Northwestern in the final rounds of the Big Ten Student Design Challenge with their proposal of a welcoming study space.

McCormick juniors Danqing Gao and Victoria Wu and senior Vivien Ng teamed up to participate in the design competition, open to all students at a Big Ten university. The contest challenged students to reimagine a designated space on their campus –– in NU’s case, a room in Main Library. Based on their experiences in the library and interviews with students, the group envisioned “The Nest.”

“The Nest” gets its name from the group’s goal to create a space that is both comforting and encouraging of ideas, Wu said. Many of the group’s friends had expressed they felt a lack of environments that are not “oppressive,” she said.

“People really desired a place that felt a little more warm and not so stressful –– kind of nurturing –– while at the same time being a good productive zone,” she said.

The group first started by researching “cool work spaces” that could be applicated to Main Library. They then conducted interviews of friends and those who frequented the library to figure out their needs.

When brainstorming ideas, the group initially made a list of adjectives for what they wanted their design to embody. “Cozy” was brought up often, along with “warm” and “well-lit,” Ng said.

“If you look at Mudd Library, all of it is very harsh lighting, very cold colors and the acoustics aren’t good because none of it is sound proof,” she said. “So making sure things are softer would go a long way.”

Another goal the group tried to achieve with “The Nest” was to increase more space for individuals and small groups, Gao said. During their observation period, Gao said they saw many students who came to the library alone, simply to work in an environment with backgrounds of white noise.

“When we were doing the observation area in the (library), it is a collaborative space but there are actually all types of people in it,” she said. “A lot of people work there studying alone.”

Although the University has no current plans to implement the design on campus for now, Wu said she is confident their feedback was important to the University because the competition organizers at NU were also administrators in charge of renovating campus spaces.

She added that although the University often spends large amounts of money on “impressive” buildings, she hopes it will pay more attention to design and its relationship with students.

“Personally, I hope whoever is in charge of designing these spaces [understands] … the importance of conducting student surveys to fill knowledge gaps,” she said. “I hope that the University thinks more about, when designing a space, how people will feel in that space.”

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