Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons

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The Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons was planned in response to the growth of Georgia Tech’s undergraduate student body. The Institute spent about 10 years planning and is now in the building phase of an 85 million dollar facility dedicated to innovative learning and academic enrichment. The more than 235,000 square foot complex is located along Skiles Walkway and is connected to the Prince Gilbert Library. [1]



Funding for this large-scale project has been the main hindrance in the completion of this 85 million dollar complex. The University System of Georgia State Board of Regents appropriated 60 million dollars, leaving the remaining 25 million dollars to be raised by the university. An anonymous donor made an eight-figure donation to this Capital Campaign project jump-starting what began as a somewhat daunting task. Since donating that large sum, the anonymous donor has also offered to match dollar for dollar, up to 8.75 million dollars any donations made by other donors specifically for the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons if paid in full by June 2014. This generous donor has allowed the construction of the building to start in time for a hopeful completion date of the end of the Summer of 2011. [2]


After 14 years as the President of the Georgia Institute of Technology and 5 years as a student, both as an undergraduate and graduate student, G. Wayne Clough was not usually surprised by happenings at Tech. When he arrived at a meeting about the progress of what was known as the Undergraduate Learning Commons, he was at first surprised to learn that the fund-raising was nearly completed. After learning about the success of the Capital Campaign, Clough was again shocked to learn that pending the review of the University System of Georgia State Board of Regents, the building would forever bare his name. [3] Clough, now the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute who leads the world’s largest museum and research complex, was a well-deserved benefactor for this state of the art learning commons. [4]

According to Alfred P. West, Jr., who ,in addition to serving as chairman of Campaign Georgia Tech, is also chairman and CEO of SEI Investments Co. in Oaks, Pennsylvania, Clough made Georgia Tech the well-known institute it is today, “In the span of fourteen years, [Clough] has taken Georgia Tech from a well-respected regional university focused on engineering to an internationally prominent institution encompassing dynamic interdisciplinary fields with vast potential for solving problems on a global scale. That kind of contribution deserves a highly visible means of lasting recognition, and naming the Learning Commons in Wayne’s honor fits the bill perfectly.” The Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons will be a central resource not only to the 13,750 current undergraduate students but also to the thousands of students that will matriculate at Georgia Tech in the coming years. [5]


On January 19, 2010, Turner Construction Company, the nation’s largest builder of educational facilities was awarded a 63 million dollar contract by the Georgia Institute of Technology to provide construction services on the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons. This large scale project shows the commitment between Georgia Tech and Turner Construction. According to Dave Butler, Vice President and General Manager of Turner’s Atlanta Operations, “We are proud to continue our more than 20 year relationship with the Georgia Institute of Technology and manage the construction of this important facility to benefit the students, faculty and community served by the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.” [6] Ground for the CULC was broken on April 5, 20110 with the facility scheduled for completion in May 2011. [7]

The Building

An artist's rending one of the new 300 person auditorium

Besides the central location of this building, there are also many resources that will allow students to truly succeed at Tech. For the first time ever, Tech will have a central Academic Support or Help Desk which will be fully staffed from 8am to 9am allowing students to get direction to the right offices or help learning about opportunities on campus. There will also be new advising offices for students interested in Pre-Health, Pre-Teaching, Scholarships and Undergraduate research.

Outside of advising, there will be more easily-accessible tutoring (both group and 1-on-1), an Office of Success Programs, and an Office of Information Technology Resource Center for any technical assistance. There will also be a brand new Communications Support Office, which will assist students in project rehearsals along with formal writing advice. [8]

There will be large Special Academic Event Space to allow for large group meetings and presentations along with Innovative Classrooms designed for experimentation-based teaching and technically advanced rooms allowing students to not only connect with their professor in class but also connect with their fellow classmates. These classrooms will allow for a new type of learning-style in classes from Engineering to Biology to Modern Languages and even Management. This central location will also house all freshman-level lab classes, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Physics, a sure upgrade from their current lab facilities which over time have become outdated and derelict. There will also be two new 300-person lecture halls with full tables and a tiered set-up allowing students to spread out and be more engaged in classes that can sometimes get overwhelming. These will be the only such buildings on campus and will certainly be used for the large introductory level classes. [9]

This state of the art building will certainly benefit all undergraduates, allowing them a central location for classes, labs and academic support. On a campus that can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for Freshman, this all-in-one building will certainly ease the transition for Freshman and enhance the undergraduate experience for upperclassmen.

Change in Transit Hub

The completion of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center and Georgia Tech’s Capital Campaign will move the location of Tech’s transit hub. The current hub, located across from the Campus Recreation Center will be replaced by a new, more centrally located hub that will serve both the Tech Trolley and the Stinger buses and will give students access to the Student Center and Skiles Walkway. This new transit hub will not only make the buses run in a more convenient pattern but will also be safer for students who often walk to the library or student center late at night, a path that until now is not accessible by bus. [10] According to Aaron Fowler, the alternative transportation coordinator, the goal of the transit center is make central campus more accessible, “Our goal is to open the new transit center in conjunction with the opening of the new CULC as our main objective for the new transit center is to provide much needed transit access to the heart of central campus.” [11]

LEED Green Certification

An artist's rending of the Green Roof

Georgia Tech has been committed to making their campus greener over the past decade. So far, Georgia Tech has 721,867 square feet of LEED certified buildings including the College of Management Building, the Klaus Advanced Computing Building, the Old Civil Engineering Building and the Women’s Softball complex.

The latest LEED Green certified building on Campus will be the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, which will be completed in Fall 2011. This building will feature a four-story atrium, a planned roof garden and an underground cistern designed to capture rainwater from the roof of the building along with the surrounding area. Once the water is collected in the cistern it will be filtered and than reused for toilet-flushing and irrigation for surrounding landscape. Along with these specific Green measures, the building will also be made with recycled materials and have other energy reducing measures implemented throughout the construction. Upon completion, the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is expected to receive LEED Gold Certification, the highest sustainability rating a building can attain. [12]


  1. Georgia Institute of Technology. Town Hall Meeting. G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons Project. October 8, 2009.
  2. Campaign Georgia Tech. G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008.
  3. Philanthropy Quarterly. Plans unveiled to name Undergraduate Learning Commons for President Clough. Georgia Institute of Technology. Spring 2008,
  4. Smithsonian. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Newsdesk: Newsroom of the Smithsonian Institute. June 22, 2010,
  5. Treadaway, Dan. Plans unveiled to name Undergraduate Learning Commons for President Clough. The Whistle. June 16, 2008,
  6. Turner Construction. Turner Awarded $63 Million Contract by Georgia Institute of Technology to Provide Construction Services on the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons in Atlanta, Ga. News: Turner Construction Company. Atlanta, GA. January 19, 2010, .
  7. Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission. Groundbreaking at GA Tech, April 5, 2010,,2086,77323081_78558241_158652756,00.html.
  8. Lee, Hahnming. “Clough building plans finalized for construction.” The Technique July 11, 2008,
  9. Georgia Institute of Technology Division of Facilities. Facilities Gives Update on CULC Construction. February 4, 2010,
  10. State of Georgia. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Board of Regents Meeting Agenda, Tuesday November 9, 2010. Atlanta: State of Georgia, 2010. Print.
  11. Arun, Aakash. “Spring Construction to redirect traffic flow” The Technique, November 12, 2010,
  12. Georgia Tech Office of Environmental Stewardship. Georgia Tech has Sustainable Buildings, Sustainability at Georgia Tech. June, 2010,
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