Students at Rutgers University–New Brunswick who have a class within the new Rutgers Academic Building are benefiting from advances in classroom technology that are revolutionizing the learning experience. The new 200,000-square-foot academic facility, adjacent to the new Honors College at the northern end of Voorhees Mall, contains a medley of unique instructional spaces designed to enable student participation—with instructors and with one another. Collectively, the rooms represent the gold standard in classroom technology in higher education today.

“At any given moment, more than 2,500 students and faculty are making use of the classrooms, lecture halls, and offices of the signature academic building,” says  president Robert Barchi, who was deeply involved in the building’s design and function. “Here in the heart of our most historic campus, we are equipping students with  the most advanced instructional technology both as a dynamic tool for learning and as preparation for 21st-century careers.”

Two “active learning” classrooms each feature 10 round tables from which students can project information from their networked laptops onto a main monitor and several wall-mounted screens. Instructors can change the monitors to show different students’ work, inviting classroom discussion. There are also 11 seminar rooms, all equipped with instructional technology such as an interactive touchscreen computer that opens from the instructor’s table. The wireless display enables instructors and students alike to transmit content from laptops, smartphones, and tablets to the room’s main monitor.

“Active learning” classrooms, top, The Yard, bottom


The “active learning” classrooms, top, are complemented by seven lecture halls, 11 seminar rooms, a learning center, and, lower left, a computer center. The new academic building is part of the College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative, which includes the new College Avenue Apartments, lower right, and features The Yard, a courtyard containing a large video screen, tables and chairs, and retail stores.

Roy Groething; Nick Romanenko

The building, used by 20,000 students daily, also contains two 120-seat and five 300-seat lecture halls. Instructors can roam the large spaces while addressing students, thanks to a wireless microphone that is connected to the hall’s audio system. From the lectern itself, a robust command-and-control post, instructors can adjust everything from the height of the window shades to the room’s temperature. The building, consisting of two multistory wings that surround terraced courtyards, also has seminar and specialty classrooms, a learning center, where technology allows for different types of tutoring and mentoring, and a computer lab. And, to complement the plethora of white boards, some of the spaces even contain old-fashioned chalkboards.

The academic building is part of the College Avenue Redevelopment Initiative, a joint $300 million venture between Rutgers and the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), a nonprofit real estate development organization. In addition to the academic building and the Honors College, the undertaking included the construction of the College Avenue Apartments, a 14-story building that contains 135 apartments for 442 students. Located at the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street, the new building surrounds a courtyard lined with retail stores. The Yard, as it is known, is a sizable green space with tables and chairs from which students can take in the large video monitor that broadcasts all things Rutgers.

“The addition of these spectacular academic and  residential spaces is a vital part of fulfilling our pledge—articulated in the university strategic plan—to  dramatically improve the student experience at Rutgers,” says Barchi. •