For Wake Forest undergraduates — especially science majors — the opening of the Wake Downtown campus provides another opportunity for them to diverge from their routine and “experiment” with new study spots. Not since the opening of Farrell have Deacs’ seen such a large expansion of academic space, and never before has Wake Forest been so integrated with the Winston-Salem community. I recently took the 15 minute trip on the Wake Line shuttle to the downtown facilities to check out the new study spaces and amenities built for students at the Innovation Quarter.
The first thing that caught my attention about the building was the number of windows. Unlike other academic buildings, except for Farrell, the Wake Downtown facilities let in an abundance of natural light. These windows deliver an amazing view of the landscaping of Bailey Park in the foreground with the skyline of Winston-Salem in the background. It connects the interior of the building to its natural surroundings and entices students to go explore those surroundings.
But if you are in need to study intensely and don’t have time explore the Innovation Quarter’s urban escape from the Reynolda Campus, you can find some nice places inside to boost your focus. The building offers two different kinds of study spaces — large atrium-style rooms and quiet study rooms with desk-style seating. The first floor gathering space, Student Commons, boasts many couches and tables for group study.
The second-floor atrium beckons visitors from the main entrance with an open staircase that approaches to a circular room complete with couches, “bar-style” seating and booths. Each seat in this atrium has an easily accessible power source for charging laptops and devices, and the tables between booth seats also function as whiteboards, a fun twist that maximizes wall space for art. This part of the building is the most comfortable and surprisingly quiet. Unlike the atrium in Farrell, the flow of this second-floor study space is one that you do not feel in a slightly more intimate setting, with less of the feeling that someone will be watching you the entire time to take your seat.
For the best mix of seating and seclusion for group work, however, I recommend the third-floor gathering space right outside of the medicinal chemistry labs. In this room, there are four seater tables as well as “bar-style” seating along with a kitchenette offering a microwave, coffee pot and refrigerator. But the best part about this room is the huge panoramic window that looks out over Bailey Park and onto the skyline of Winston-Salem. Besides BB&T Ballpark, no other building in Winston-Salem was designed with a better view in mind.
Senior Mia Harris agreed as she visited Wake Downtown for the first time. “I would definitely study here again,” Harris said. “It is quiet, the lighting is great and Winston Hall is not the inviting place for biology majors to get stuff done, so I would like to explore this option more.”
It is true that the new Wake Downtown campus provides a better environment for science majors and medical school students than other Reynolda Campus buildings. The labs and classrooms provide a needed update to science department facilities along with an emphasis on putting the best Windows technology in each classroom.
Sophomore Kira Sims assists in research at the Innovation Quarter. “I love the new labs and study spaces,” Sims said, “and the chance to interact with Wake Forest medical school students is definitely a unique opportunity at this campus.”
When you are done studying at the brand-new Wake Forest Downtown facilities, all of Winston-Salem is open and easily accessible by walking. Krankies Coffee is a two-minute walk away and visible from the entrance of the new building while Camino Bakery is just a little further down Fourth Street. Other popular restaurants on Trade Street are also within walking distance and no more than a 10-minute walk. Also, food trucks often park outside of the Innovation Quarter so that grabbing a quick bite to eat while waiting for the shuttle ride back to campus is easy.
Overall, Wake Forest’s new campus in Downtown Winston-Salem gives all students and not just science majors a reason to go out and explore the community. With its location near to many eateries and its availability of both group study space and quiet study areas, the new campus might just be the next one-stop shop for Deacs’ preparing for their midterm exams.