April 27, 2011

Where minds meet: UW Bothell opens collaborative spaces in Beardslee Building

News and Information

Faculty or student, all are equal in the UW Bothell collaboratory. And who knows what theyll come up with?

Top: UW Bothell has opened new spaces in the Beardslee Building. Here's the third floor lobby. Below: The collaboratory is a technologically equipped meeting space designed to promote interdisciplinary engagement.

The collaboratory is a new open working space in the Beardslee Building, an office building in which UW Bothell has leased 30,000 square feet of space on two floors, for the next 10 years. The campus dedicated the facility with an open house attended by local and regional dignitaries on Friday, April 22.

Its a place dedicated to the open exchange of ideas, supported by design and technology, with a focus on the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math, said Robin Angotti, associate professor in Bothells education program, who was charged with organizing how the space will be used. The Beardslee Building is adjacent to the student housing complex at the north entrance to the UW Bothell campus.

The new UW spaces are open by design, Angotti said. “It allows scientists who are geographically dispersed to work together using technology — have access to each other, and data bases. For example, as a math educator I collaborate with computer science people and think about how to use computer science products in education.”

She said the openness of the space means that researchers “end up listening in on other conversations, and spontaneous collaboration can result.” She cited the example, a decade back, of Alzheimers researchers making headway by deciding to share and cooperate. “Its transformed the way we think, like the idea of the Internet itself — web 2.0 — where people collaborate across distances.”

Top: The Garage, a breakout space in the Beardsleee building's collaboratory that features a wall that can be written on, video monitors and a fold-down door that can isolate the space. Below: The art lab in the newly opened Beardslee Building. The lab is critical component of the interdisciplinary approach to teaching science and technology.

The collaboratory area opens into an art studio, enabling yet another creative aspect of collaboration: You can draw on the white-board walls.

Amy Van Dyke, director of physical planning for UW Bothell, said the new space helps serve the ever-growing enrollment on campus. “Were bursting at the seams,” she said, with annual increases to the student count.

UW Bothell is by nature a collaborative and interdisciplinary place — Angotti said thats what attracted her to the campus — but Van Dyke said the Beardslee Building spaces are its first exclusively dedicated to collaboration. Similar areas are ultimately planned for UW3, the new building for science and technology that the Bothell campus is in line to get when funding allows, Van Dyke said.

“Its an idea we had in place for UW3 but we wanted to give it a chance, to see what the campus really does with it.”

Warren Buck, researcher and former chancellor at UW Bothell, agreed. “Its a very experimental place, and (faculty) are just going to find out how to use it in many, many different ways.”

The Beardslee Building also houses UW Bothells Business Development Center, which helps connect small businesses with the University; the Center for Serious Play, where interactive technologies are used to transform education; the Science and Technology Program and several classrooms, labs and seminar rooms.

Angotti summed up the spirit behind the collaboratory, and really, the campus as a whole: “Heres what weve got. The idea to put whatever youve got out there and collaborate with other people so that, together, we can figure out how to solve the big problems facing the world today.”

Learn more about UW Bothell and its programs online.