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January 23, 2007

The Better, Stronger, Faster: 138 Hutchins Hall

Hutchins Hall room 138 has reopened after an eight-month remodeling project. The room has been reoriented, and features technological upgrades, a new heating and cooling system, and greater accessibility.

Perhaps the most obvious change is the reorientation of the room to a short, wide space. Although the capacity of the room decreased from 100 to 60 people, and reorientation necessitated an additional exit, the new design is a response to professor requests. Past lecturers had felt the previous configuration distanced them from their students. Now, no student is more than four rows back, so no more sleeping through Jurisdiction. Sorry.

The new front row of tables can be turned around to form an oval with the second row, or combined with the teacher’s desk to make a conference table that seats sixteen, making the room suitable for both full-sized lectures and smaller seminars. The new energy-efficient air-handling and air-conditioning system independently manages the front seminar space and the full room. The new multi-level ceiling design partitions airflow and provides a closer feel for seminars in the front of the otherwise cavernous space. Additionally, the front row of tables are high enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

The new room 138 boasts all-new audio visual equipment including a projector, a document camera, and an image camera. This equipment is all built into the room, an improvement that the Law School’s AV team can appreciate as they rush past to set up projectors and such for professors in the still-ancient 150 Hutchins. The new gear, along with the projector screen, lights, and two kinds of window shades, are all controlled by a Crestron unit at the teacher’s table.

A welcome upgrade for students are the electrical outlets at each seat. Over Spring Break, these will be joined by computer data ports to provide Internet access. It is not yet known whether Internet access will be disabled during class times.

There is still work to be done before 138 Hutchins will be finished. The teacher’s table is currently too low, a new carpet will be installed in a few weeks, and further electrical system upgrades are required. Still, it looks good so far, and we welcome the opening of the new room 138 for lectures, seminars, and lunch-time events.