The picture of innovation

Photos by Paul L. Newby II
With photos of previous space by Potter Lawson

A glass wall featuring the words Together Forward and a large chevron
The Learning Commons is a physical manifestation of the Wisconsin School of Business brand—Together Forward—and a space to foster the behaviors associated with it: trustworthy, progressive, inspiring, and collaborative.

The Wisconsin School of Business’s Learning Commons opened in May 2018, transforming the center of Grainger Hall into a new space for collaboration, inspiration, and innovation.

The renovation marks a dramatic difference from how the previous Business Library and Huber Computer Lab looked and functioned. While the previous space was comparatively dark and static in functionality, the new Learning Commons is designed to be open, bright, and flexible for current and future use. Unifying three floors in the core of Grainger Hall, the Learning Commons connects two wings into a visible heart of the building.

The Learning Commons encourages active learning, employs forward-looking technology, integrates artwork and better aesthetics, and promotes a sense of community. It’s a space meant to be experienced and celebrated.

Picture here what a reimagined business education looks like.

The photo gallery features many before and after images of the Learning Commons. On desktop and tablet devices, slide the scroll bar to see the difference this renovation has made.

West Atrium Entrance

A wall made up of various pieces of dark and light wood and a staircase leading up to the second floor
Huber Undergraduate Computer Lab entrance before the Learning Commons construction.
Huber Undergraduate Computer Lab entrance before the Learning Commons construction.

Before

A wall made up of various pieces of dark and light wood and a staircase leading up to the second floor

After

The Learning Commons welcomes users through the first floor West Atrium entrance. While the previous doors opened only to the Huber Undergraduate Computer Lab, the new entrance serves as a welcoming gateway to the Finance and Analytics Lab and Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab, as well as the open staircase leading to the second floor.

Finance and Analytics Lab

Two people standing and one person working at a computer station in the Finance and Analytics Lab
The Finance and Analytics Lab houses state-of-the-art hardware and software, including access to financial databases and toolsets such as Bloomberg, FactSet, and S&P Capital IQ. Above, a WSB student reads market data while alums Ricky Sandler (BBA ’91) and Paul Leff (BBA ’83, M.S. ’84) see the cutting-edge space in action.

Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab

Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab featuring multiple work stations and a wall with multiple red chevrons
Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab before the Learning Commons construction.
Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab before the Learning Commons construction.

Before

Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab featuring multiple work stations and a wall with multiple red chevrons

After

The transformed Huber Undergraduate Computing Lab provides 52 computers with access to instructional software and printing resources. In this space, WSB researchers have the ability to partition off stations to conduct studies that require computer access.

Second Floor

A wall with chevrons that have lights and a list of donors who made the learning commons possible
Second Floor before the Learning Commons construction
Second Floor before the Learning Commons construction

Before

A wall with chevrons that have lights and a list of donors who made the learning commons possible

After

The renovated second floor now features a donor wall that recognizes the generous contributions of many alumni and friends whose support made the Learning Commons possible. It opens to an expansive space for students to study and connect, surrounded by glass paneling that increases natural light.

Active Learning Classroom

Active learning classroom with four electronic displays, multiple tables, and red and black chairs
Five active learning classrooms provide flexible configurations for different modes of instruction. During the day, these rooms can be used for course instruction. In the evenings, they can be utilized for tutoring.

Group Work and Shared Space

Students working at group stations collaborating and using their own devices
The second floor of the Learning Commons is designed for collaboration, offering ample opportunity for group work and shared space. The artwork pictured above, created by Chris Maddox (MFA ’16), is part of a broader collection of art in the Learning Commons that reflects WSB’s commitment to integrating art into business.

Marble Window

Marble window after the Learning Commons construction
Marble window before the Learning Commons construction
Marble window before the Learning Commons construction

Before

Marble window after the Learning Commons construction

After

The retained marble window is a featured piece in the Learning Commons, receiving more visibility and light in the new space. Created by artist Ed Carpenter, the window holds 75,000 glass marbles that are sandwiched together into 56 sealed window panels.

Third Floor

The individual study space with students working at stations. A wall behind the students has multiple chevrons in various colors.
Third floor before the Learning Commons construction
Third floor before the Learning Commons construction

Before

The individual study space with students working at stations. A wall behind the students has multiple chevrons in various colors.

After

On the updated third floor of the Learning Commons, students find a diverse mix of seating for quiet, individual study. Better lighting improves user well-being, while table dividers give students a sense of privacy.

Access to Power

Students working in the Learning Commons using their own devices
Data jacks and power sources are placed throughout the Learning Commons to support students who bring their own devices. A total of 1,038 outlets provide power throughout the Learning Commons.

Breakout Rooms

A room with a table six chairs and an electronic display
Breakout rooms before the Learning Commons construction
Breakout rooms before the Learning Commons construction

Before

A room with a table six chairs and an electronic display

After

Ten new breakout rooms can be reserved for small group work. Wireless display connectivity allows students to connect their devices to wall-mounted monitors, while whiteboards and opaque glass can be used as writable surfaces.

Library Stacks

Library stacks after the Learning Commons construction
Library stacks before the Learning Commons construction
Library stacks before the Learning Commons construction

Before

Library stacks after the Learning Commons construction

After

The Business Library’s stacks take on a new look in the Learning Commons, where the collection of physical book stacks and periodicals has been reduced and reallocated to increase space for students to engage in silent work.

Ribbon Cutting

Ricky Sandler (BBA ’91), Ed Van Gemert, vice provost for libraries (retired), UW–Madison; Sarah Mangelsdorf, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, UW–Madison; Barry Gerhart, interim Albert O. Nicholas Dean, Wisconsin School of Business; and Steve Cramer, vice provost for teaching and learning, UW–Madison at the learning commons ribbon cutting
Ricky Sandler (BBA ’91), center, provided the lead gift for the Learning Commons because of his desire to support an engaging and technology-rich learning environment and to attract the best and brightest students to WSB. Pictured with Sandler at the May 2018 ribbon cutting are Ed Van Gemert, vice provost for libraries (retired), UW–Madison; Sarah Mangelsdorf, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, UW–Madison; Barry Gerhart, interim Albert O. Nicholas Dean, Wisconsin School of Business; and Steve Cramer, vice provost for teaching and learning, UW–Madison.