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UA Innovation Committee redesigns 26-110 to be a new study space

DSL gives committee $1,000 to support the space for the rest of the semester

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A student busies himself with the Lego set in 26-110, the Compton Lounge, which has been recently refurnished by the UA Innovation Committee.
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Two students work on their laptops in 26-110, the Compton Lounge, which houses a well-lit individual study space, snacks, and drinks.
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Students take naps in between classes at the Compton Lounge, 26-110, which has been recently refurnished.
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Two students work in the refurnished Compton Lounge, which includes free snacks and drinks.
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A student works in 26-110, the Compton Lounge, in front of boards filled with student feedback about the refurnished room.
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Students work in 26-110, the Compton Lounge, refurnished recently by the UA Innovation Committee.

The UA Innovation Committee has transformed the Compton Lounge (26-110) into a welcoming study space with free coffee and bananas, a napping area, beanbags, and Legos, with the goal of best meeting students’ needs.

The committee, a group of about 20 undergraduate students, has the overarching objective of promoting innovation among students by fostering student connections. It began research on reinventing a space on campus last semester, and started considering 26-110 in late February.

“[26-110 is] the smack bang center of mass of campus for the daytime population,” Innovation Committee Chair Malte Ahrens ’19 said in an interview with The Tech. “It ticks all these boxes. It’s got card reader access, and only for students. There are at least two windows, there are two gender-neutral bathrooms right nearby, there’s water nearby.”

Committee members visited companies, other colleges, and places on campus to examine the features of different spaces. It paid tremendous attention to detail in designing the space, according to William Wu ’19, vice president of the Innovation Committee, in an interview with The Tech. For example, the food and Legos are closest to the door in order to be visible to students walking by, while the napping area is where the lighting is dimmest.

The space was only supposed to be open for one week as an experiment. However, because of its success in meeting the needs of students, Vice President and Dean of the Division for Student Life Suzy Nelson gave the committee $1,000 out of her discretionary fund to support the space for the rest of the semester, according to Ahrens.

“The Division of Student Life was happy to provide some financial support for the student space pilot underway in the Compton Lounge,” Nelson wrote in an email sent to The Tech.

“I believe that the UA Committee on Innovation has not yet released its report and that their meeting with the Committee on Student Life — which is working on its own report about student spaces — is happening soon,” Nelson explained. Nelson anticipates that the lounge will be a part of both reports.

Wu said that he really wants students to view the space as an example of how they can collaboratively make a change that positively impacts the community. “I feel like it’s easy when you’re caught in psets, in the daily grind of things, to forget that MIT is a community and a place that is living and can be improved, and that it’s flexible,” Wu said.