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The Underground Technology Hub at Amarillo College

What started as an empty basement in Ware Student Commons was transformed into an 11,000-SF technology hub for Amarillo College students, staff and faculty. The project began in 2018 after the college discerned the need for a unique space dedicated for students to complete their assignments and study.

“It feels so much more personal like they did this for the students not for the school,” said Brylee Gray, Amarillo College Student Government Association historian & child psychology major.

Features include PC and Mac desktop and laptop computers, 100 work stations, production rooms, both large and small collaboration rooms, 85-inch screens, high-quality printers, and many more state-of-the-art amenities.

Three concepts pervade the design of The Underground – safety, visibility and access.

SAFETY

One of the primary goals of this project was to improve safety. The design is an open concept with clear views throughout the space. Key card access and limited entries/exits also add to the safety of this facility.

This is one entrance that students use to descend to The Underground, giving the facility its name.

VISIBILITY

An open concept was important to this space to create acommunity for learning. Glass walls allow for privacy when needed while not being completely closed off. The visibility incorporated into the design also creates a safety element to the space.

"Having a kind of collective industry of people - I think that’s why people do like to study together rather than just hide out. This is a really fun community space and learning space,” said Kim Hooker, AIA, project manager.

ACCESS

The new enhanced entry is exciting and inviting. A vertical lift provides full accessibility to all users.

The facility has the potential to operate 24/7 even when the Ware Building Lobby is closed to allow for flexibility in studies, working on group projects and educational opportunities.

Bold signage discerns the location of The Underground and clearly sets the technology hub apart from the rest of Ware Student Commons.

This design was also created with the idea that this is a place students would want to go for gatherings and studying. The bright colors, modern furniture and availability of upgraded technology all create a welcoming element that contributes to accessibility.

“It’s just very energetic and positive and a place where students want to be. That’s what we want – our students to come here and stay here for long periods of time. Even late at night when they’re studying, the colors around them and the furniture and the finishes should really elevate their studies," said Alyssa Vance, IIDA, interior designer.