The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation donated $3 million to transform the School of Hotel Administration’s library and study lounge into a new facility “designed to enhance student learning in the digital age,” the University announced Monday.
“Like so many students at Cornell, today’s SHA students require space to study as individuals, work in groups and relax, all while having digital access to our library collections. The Marriott Student Learning Center will be just such a place,” Hotel Dean Michael D. Johnson, said in an email.
The new facility will be configured from the current Nestlé Library and George B. Mallory ’54 Student Lounge and is meant to provide students with an “increased variety of space to work together,” according to Jon Denison, associate dean for external affairs. The new facility will also help facilitate group work and learning through digital media, Denison said.
Denison said that part of the renovation will involve removing the library’s book stacks. The traditional library resources will be integrated with the libraries of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Johnson Graduate School of Management, according to the press release.
“This project is a very tangible outcome of our efforts under Reimagining Cornell to leverage our library collaboration with ILR and the Johnson School to produce a space that students can call their own right in the center of campus,” Johnson said. “We are extremely grateful to the Marriott family and Foundation for making it all happen."
The added space from the removal of the stacks will beused for seating arrangements for small and large groups, Denison said.
“Many, if not all, of the classes [in the Hotel School] involve students doing things in teams, and while we have some small group space now, we don’t have anything of the variety or the amount that we will have once this project is completed,” Denison said.
Denison also said that the center will provide students more access to digital information by including small group meeting spaces, with SMART Board technology for group presentations. It will also offer fixed and mobile computing resources for accessing information digitally, according to a press release.
“A lot of the work that our students do involves capturing data from databases or Internet sources,” Denison said. “We will still have librarians on duty, but now they will be working with students to do research via digital means.”
The space will also have space for relaxing and socializing and will include some food and beverage options, according to the press release.
Denison said that Woods Bagot, a prominent international architectural firm, has been selected to design the facility. The senior principal of Woods Bagot New York, Jeffrey Holmes ’89, is a graduate of Cornell’s architecture school.
Denison said that the Marriott foundation has been a “long and generous supporter” of Cornell. The foundation also gave $2 million to the Hotel School for the construction of the Statler Hotel in 1986, he said.
“They have been incredible supporters of the school dating back since the 1950s,” Denison said.
Construction of the facility will begin when classes end in May and will be ready for use when students return in September, Denison said.
Students in the Hotel School said this facility is greatly needed and will benefit the student body.
“Group work is such a large part of the Hotel School, and in our careers, it is important that we know how to interact with our peers in a social setting,” Kealy Hartman ’14 said. “If this center will facilitate that kind of work further, then it can only be a positive thing for the school.”
But other Hotel students disagreed, stating the new facility is unnecessary.
“There is already a student lounge for this type of thing,” Daniel Goldman ’14 said. “I think there is already plenty of space and great facilities. [The Hotel School] already has a quiet library and a lounge for collaborating with other students, so any changes at this point seem superfluous.”