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 Tuesday, September 12, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


New ATLAS Building a Technology Beacon
By Bruce Henderson, ATLAS Institute Communications Coordinator

The new ATLAS building, which opened this fall to about 90 different courses from a wide range of disciplines, is easily identifiable by its prominent, lighted glass tower. That architectural feature aptly serves as a metaphor: the ATLAS Institute and the new ATLAS building are a technology beacon for the University of Colorado and beyond.

Located in the heart of campus near the University Memorial Center, the $31 million, 66,000-square-foot facility features instructional spaces designed to encourage creative uses of in-class and distance learning technologies and engaged student learning practices.

“The building is located as much in the heart of the campus as it possibly can be. This is a decision that the campus made because the building is so central to the campus and so integrated with all disciplines including those that are at the heart of the campus – the arts, social sciences and humanities,” said Bobby Schnabel, the director of ATLAS and vice provost for academic and campus technology.

Faculty and instructors from any discipline have the opportunity to teach in the five-story ATLAS building. Technology-enhanced spaces include two 25-seat classrooms, two 40-seat classrooms, and one 150-seat auditorium; an experimental “black box” theater; production studios; a film screening room and a lobby with a video wall. There also is wireless Internet access throughout the building.

In addition to the ATLAS Institute, occupants include the Film Studies Program, Faculty Teaching Excellence Program, Graduate Teacher Program, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology NCWIT and Information Technology Services.

The building encourages interactions between students and faculty from many disciplines because it offers a number of public spaces that contribute to a lively and creative atmosphere. These spaces include Kay"s Café, a coffee shop that is operated by Vic"s, located on the ground level of the building adjacent to the exhibition lobby.

“The ATLAS building is a watering hole. We have a coffee shop, we have a lounge on the second floor, we have all of these great gathering spaces,” said Diane Sieber, co-director of ATLAS and director of the Technology, Arts and Media certificate program, which is also housed in the new building. She added that these spaces facilitate creative discussions between people from disparate disciplines. “You have a computer scientist, a musician, and a literary critic who are gathered together and able to discuss things that they would never have an opportunity to discuss,” Sieber said.

ATLAS will hold a public open house on Friday, Oct. 13. Scheduled over Family Weekend, this full day of events will officially showcase the facilities to a wide audience including students, parents, alums, faculty and the greater Boulder community.

The open house begins at 10 a.m. and will involve multiple sites in the building. There will be short multimedia dance and music performances in the black box, journalism programming from the broadcast studio, multiple building tours, interactive exhibits, hands-on technology projects and a film screening in the evening. Another feature event will be the speaker series in the large auditorium with engaging talks and panel discussions on a wide range of topics, including “Technology and Education,” “Diversity and Technology” and “Reflections on Architecture and the ATLAS Building.” Several students from the Technology Arts and Media program will also present their projects.

Construction of the ATLAS building began in January 2005 and was completed in August. Of the $31 million cost, $1.6 million was provided by the state of Colorado; about $7.5 million has come from private and federal sources. Jim and Becky Roser of Boulder made a $2.25 million co-naming gift for the building.

Student fees make up the bulk of the funding and made construction possible. About $21 million is being provided by student fees, which began this fall and will increase from $100 a year to $400 a year over a four-year period.

ATLAS is an acronym for the Alliance for Teaching, Learning and Society and is a campus-wide institute that integrates information technology with multidisciplinary curricular, research and outreach programs. ATLAS' vision is to provide information technology for all students, and those in diverse communities at CU-Boulder and K-12 schools.

More information about the ATLAS Institute and its programs is available on the web site.

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