Revamped Quiet Study Lounge opens in Smith

On Friday, more than 40 students, staff and faculty members gathered in the Smith Memorial Student Union, room 439, to celebrate the opening of the Quiet Study Lounge.

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On Friday, more than 40 students, staff and faculty members gathered in the Smith Memorial Student Union, room 439, to celebrate the opening of the Quiet Study Lounge.

The space has been undergoing a remodel since the Peer Tutoring Lounge vacated it in spring 2012. What was once a gray, drab and dreary area of campus has been opened up and transformed into almost 2,900 square feet of soothing colors and natural light that streams in from the windows facing the Park Blocks along the west wall.

Posters designed by the university’s student-run Graphic Design Center decorate the space, along with quotes that reflect on the benefits of silence: “True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment,” William Pen said. Will Rogers admonishes, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

Brian Hustoles, the director of the student union and university events, opened the event by expressing his excitement at the new study space for students.

“I’m happy to be here to celebrate this glorious new Quiet Study Lounge,” he said.

There were many different companies involved in the transformation, with some of the work done by students, Hustoles said.

“All the design work was done by our student-run design center here on campus, and the bamboo furniture was made [in] Portland State’s woodshop,” he said.

Other vendors included Integra, who provided the lounge chairs, and Weld House, who made custom coffee tables from used car hoods.

Hustoles also commended Sean Green, the student representative for the Smith Advisory Board, for his commitment to and involvement in the project.

“Sean Green, as a student rep, was involved in every single aspect of this transformation,” he said. “He was here last night, buffing the car-hood tables for this event.”

The second speaker, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Jackie Balzer, emphasized the importance of enjoying this accomplishment.

“This is the model of students, faculty and staff collaborating on a challenging project and maintaining our student-centered and sustainability values,” she said, then shared several reasons why providing a quiet study lounge for students is important.

First, a number of studies show that spending more quality time on campus is directly correlated to student success and completion rates, Balzer said.

She emphasized the importance of quiet spaces when pursuing academic success and the benefits of providing a comfortable place where students can gather, discuss and learn together.

“This is a space where students can feel comfortable, safe and nourished. This lounge makes [students] feel good and therefore makes [students] want to do well,” Balzer said.

When Green took the podium, he underlined how important a student-centered focus was to the project—students on the Smith Advisory Board and the Associated Students of Portland State University student fee committee were “instrumental in the creation of the space.”

A prime example is the chair that is set up in the lounge until June 12: Students can try out six different types of office chairs and then fill out a form stating which chair they prefer and why and submit it for review. This is the way chairs for the space will be chosen.

Consideration for sustainability was a key aspect as well.

“We spent a year and a half working on this space—testing chairs, looking at cubicle and table design, choosing paint colors,” Green said. “We literally spent hundreds of hours considering every single choice, and wanted to draw on thoughtful design and thoughtful choices to maintain financial sustainability as well as environmental sustainability.”