The Spaces Between the Rooms: A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Informal Social Spaces in the HEDCO Education Building
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Currently the Campus Planning Department at the University of Oregon requires that most new academic buildings built on campus include a certain variety of informal social spaces. This is based on a belief that good informal social spaces in university buildings can contribute to the intellectual life of the university by creating opportunities for frequent interaction between faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students, as well as foster interdisciplinary research and collaboration. This post-occupancy evaluation, developed in cooperation with Campus Planning, investigates the social spaces in the HEDCO Education Building and evaluates their effectiveness in terms of how many people use them, whether they like them, how well they create opportunities for interaction between user groups, and whether they are actually assisting or enabling research collaboration. It identifies problems that can be fixed in the short term, and develops the implications of the findings for the future design of social spaces to improve campus planning projects in the future using a variety of evaluation methods including a quantitative and qualitative space analysis, formal observation and trace analysis, an online survey distributed to College of Education members, follow-up interviews after the survey, and person on the street interviews. The results suggest that HEDCO is very effective as a community center, and student-faculty interaction does appear to be well supported. However, there was no evidence found that the social spaces in HEDCO are contributing in a significant way to formal research collaborations.