HISTORIC NEWELL HALL TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO A STUDENT LEARNING COMMONS
In September 2009, President Bernie Machen suggested that the University of Florida use a portion of Federal stimulus funding to renovate Newell Hall as a Student Learning Commons. Although the stimulus funds had to be used for other purposes, this remains a project with high student interest and strong administrative support, so the University is seeking donor funding to fulfill this vision.
If funded, this would be a dedicated space for students to work collaboratively or individually on academic and research assignments. It would be open 24 hours a day from Sunday morning through Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. The Commons would be a library in every way except for the availability of print books and journals. All of the library resources available in the Student Learning Commons would be accessed electronically with library staff providing the same research and learning support services presently available in other campus libraries.
The project would transform this historic, but energy inefficient, building and give it a new purpose and new life as an LEED1 gold building. The plan includes restoring the grand entrances on the north and south sides of the building. It is expected that there would be seating for at least 700 students and include individual and groups study spaces, computer workstations and a variety of seating from comfortable chairs to study tables. In addition, the Annex would become an exclusive Graduate Study Area similar to the 6th floor of Library West. Wireless Internet access would be available throughout the building.
President Machen authorized this project in response to student requests for 24-hour library access during the academic year. Establishing a state-of-the-art Student Learning Commons meets a critical need for students to have a 24-hour attractive, secure place designed and equipped to address their preferences for engaging in electronic research, collaborative projects and study, complete with support services.
The proposed Student Learning Commons is conveniently located at the corner of Buckman and Stadium Roads, across from the Hub and adjacent to Bryan and Pugh Halls. Hours at adjacent food services would correspond to schedule of the Commons. This center would create a new learning environment in an underserved, but well-travelled, campus crossroads.
Newell Hall was built in 1910 as the Florida Experiment Station and is the third oldest building on the University of Florida campus. On June 27, 1979, it was added to the U. S. National Register of Historic Places. The building was designed in Collegiate Gothic style by William Edwards and built by J.J. Caine Company. Renovated in 1943 under the direction of Rudolph Weaver, it was named in 1944 for noted entomologist Dr. Wilmon E. Newell, the Provost of Agriculture at the University of Florida from 1921 until his death in October 1943.