When Assistant Professor of Studio Art Scott Angus arrived at Maryville University, he knew the University needed to update its photo lab space. And he soon realized part of the solution could be found right on campus, as he enlisted the help earlier this year of student Karen Smith, an interior design major, to collaborate with him on the redesign.
What once was a traditional darkroom inside the Art & Design Building has been transformed into a modern digital photo lab space, with an instructor’s station and 15 work stations for students, all outfitted with new iMac computers. Large screens on the walls allow a professor to share students’ work or pull up images the professor wants a class to see. Individual rooms in the back of the lab allow students to complete multimedia and audio work.
“Thanks to the University’s support of the project and in-house design advice from Karen, we now have two new labs. They provide students a state-of-the-art space to master digital skill sets,” said Angus. The University has also enhanced its lighting studio.
Smith had a hand in designing the overall look of the photo lab space. “We wanted to keep with the feel of the building, which is industrial, but we didn’t want it to look too institutional,” she explained. “It’s so important when you walk into a space that you feel comfortable, and the materials are like putting on perfume when you’re done getting ready. It’s finished, makes it feel complete.”
Textured walls in the front room allow photos to be pinned up for display, and the labs have sturdy tables that allow for group discussion. Individual work stations in the next room have low dividers between them that allow soft light to filter through and minimize glare, while providing students the ability to focus on their own projects without seeing everything else around them.
The labs were redesigned to comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Angus explained. Work stations were installed to be a convenient height for students in wheelchairs. They also selected ergonomically correct chairs with wheels that can be stacked to clear room in the space, if needed. Smith and Angus selected neutral colors for the room, so that students can tone and edit their work without being influenced by colors in the room around them.
Smith, a senior who lives in Overland, Mo., is studying commercial interior design while she works part-time. “This is the only project I’ve done that has actually been created,” she said. On seeing her ideas become a reality, she said, “It was—I don’t know how to describe it. I walked in, and I was like: `wow.’ It was how I pictured it, but better.”