Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning for Stanford University

Multistory teaching environment

The Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL) is a research facility dedicated to improving student learning and promoting creativity in education. Housed in a century-old building on the Stanford University campus undergoing a major reworking for earthquake retrofitting, the Center wanted its new facility to act as a living prototype space, flexible enough to accommodate new tools, new workspaces, and new methods discovered by the Center’s research.

Working with the Center and the architect, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, IDEO began six weeks of research, including on-campus interviews, photo-surveys, and shadowing, to understand the work process of the students and the Center’s staff and faculty. This work informed the design documentation IDEO delivered, including visualizations of every aspect from architecture and furnishings to information systems and protocols of use.

The team delivered a space that was flexible enough to support a wide range of research activities, from small private spaces that allow concentration to large-scale presentations. The space needed to communicate the Center’s work to a wide audience, both on campus and off.

The ground floor is the Center’s most visible aspect and serves as its public face. A full-width display wall made of timber slats provides a warm and adaptable surface to attach and showcase the Center’s work using many forms, from posters to plasma displays and beyond. Information kiosks made from plywood allow the inevitable changes to be made cheaply and easily.

The fourth floor houses the majority of the staff, and is the most flexible and experimental section of the Center. A series of project rooms called boxcars have built-in storage and fold-down desks. Sliding doors on two walls allow the rooms to open wide to accommodate teams or close for privacy.

(NB: The SCIL was formerly called the Stanford Learning Lab.)

Project date: 2000