On October 21st, 2022, the Science Learning Center (SLC) at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (U-M) hosted an open house to celebrate the unveiling of four pieces of art and recently completed $250,000 renovation to the SLC main location in 1720 Chemistry. The art project, titled Interconnected: An SLC Pixel Project, was developed in collaboration with artist, U-M alumnus, and former SLC staff member Doug Jones using his PIXEL technique and collaborative design process.
While the project began in Spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple delays in the development of the art. The project restarted in Spring 2021 with several discovery sessions in which students and staff brainstormed ideas for the art. After four images were selected, a series of creation sessions followed with participants creating the art by painting over tiny printed pixels using Q-tips and paint. Doug Jones then transferred this work to large aluminum panels and applied an automotive top coat to finish them. The project also included a storytelling phase, with each work accompanied by a short description along with a project introduction by Doug and a perspective by public health graduate student Felicia Zhang.
The Open House also highlighted recently completed SLC renovations including:
- Updating the electrical wiring and outlets throughout the space, replacing power strips that posed tripping hazards and accessibility barriers. The new electrical system incorporates Steelcase’s Thread technology, an ultra thin design that runs under carpeting and connects to freestanding outlets where wall outlets are not accessible.
- Replacing fluorescent lighting with energy efficient and brighter LED fixtures and bulbs.
- Skimcoating the support beams and painting them and the ceiling haint blue to provide color and warmth, particularly during the gloomy, sunlight-deprived winter days.
- Upgrading all desktop computers, but reducing the number from 80 to 26 to eliminate the many unused units as more students use their personal laptops. New lighter and modern style computer tables with privacy screens also replaced the original heavy metal tables.
- Repurposing computing areas to create flexible study space with comfortable lounge furniture. The outdated computer classroom was transformed into a new Flex Space reservable for both in-person and remote SLC study groups, tutoring sessions, GSI office hours, meetings. The new space includes upgraded furniture and technology, including fliptop tables on castors, stackable chairs with wheels, digital display and computer with wireless connections and video conferencing capabilities.
- Replacing and adding newer, larger whiteboards and in-table electrical outlets in the SLC’s eight alcoves used for graduate student instructor (GSI) office hours and small study groups. Two alcoves received large digital displays with wireless connections.
- Adding new larger digital displays to share announcements and weekly GSI office hour schedule
- Adding larger, more colorful signage to clearly direct students to different areas of the Center
- The SLC front desk is also slated for replacement, with the new furniture providing flexible height seating for better accessibility.
Together the renovations and new artwork have transformed the SLC into a more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive space for students, faculty and staff.