OPN Architects and Coe College Challenge Students to Think BIG

How should higher education look, feel and sound not just in 20 years, but in 20 months? That’s the challenge OPN Architects and Coe College have posed to 14 students in Iowa BIG, a project-based learning initiative of Cedar Rapids area schools.

Many factors — technology paramount among them — are changing how students learn. In most cases institutions aren’t keeping up with the shift. Coe hopes by engaging today’s high school students it will be able to proactively address the needs of tomorrow’s college students. As a holistic design-firm that has designed dozens of next generation learning environments on campuses throughout the state, OPN is guiding the students in their analysis, visioning and eventual design of the campus of tomorrow by challenging them to envision and ultimately design an academic building.

OPN Architects was one of several area businesses and organizations to pitch possible projects to more than 90 students enrolled in Iowa BIG this semester. Students got to choose which team they wanted to work with. They meet daily at the Iowa BIG school and weekly with OPN’s David Sorg and Paul Desmond and Coe College’s David Hayes. At the end of the semester they will present their concepts to a panel of Coe students, faculty and administration.