Otto Maass 100 Integrated Undergraduate Chemistry Lab

Otto Maass Chemistry Lab


801 rue Sherbrooke Ouest


180 students

Alignment with Principles for Designing Teaching and Learning Spaces

Academic Challenge

  • Layout: Permits students to work individually or in teams of 8 around each circular lab table.
  • Furniture: Tables have sufficient space for all components of lab experiments, and storage underneath for both students’ belongings and some supplies. The separate tables permit students who have missed a class to catch up more easily, because the previous class’ experiment can remain set-up on one table, while the other tables move on to the next experiment.
  • Technologies: Access to resources: LMS, internet (via student laptops). Multiple sources and screens for simultaneous display of different learning materials.
  • Acoustics: Acoustic design to avoid distraction from outside and inside sources.
  • Lighting/colour: Appropriate lighting for individual work.   

Learning with Peers

  • Layout: Circular table layout permits students to move easily from small group to larger group aspects of an experiment, as students at each table can work together as a group of 8, or in smaller groups of 2 or 4.
  • Furniture: The round tables permit support collaborative approaches to experiments, and improved communication (both verbally and line-of-sight), particularly compared to the former traditional long, narrow benches.
  • Technologies: Shared workspaces (writable glass walls, SMART Boards).
  • Acoustics: Sound zones by table support multiple simultaneous conversations among students.
  • Lighting/colour: Large windows bring in natural light. 

Experiences with Faculty

  • Layout: Instructor is not limited to the “front of the room” and instead has access to all students due to a layout that permits ample passing space, and clear sightlines.
  • Furniture: Tables are easily accessible and have sufficient space for the instructor to check in with given group. The instructor has shelf space for materials next to each SMART Board. Ample storage space permits access to needed materials, while extra supplies don’t get in the way.
  • Technologies: Multiple SMART Boards around the classroom permit display of different learning materials.
  • Acoustics: Sound zones ensure that not only are students able to hear the instructor, but that the instructor is also able to hear the students.  
  • Lighting/colour: Lighting patterns provide a bright, pleasant environment and support multiple types of teaching tasks.

Campus Environment

  • University standards have been applied. IT is consistent with teaching and learning needs, and durable furniture contributes to sustainability efforts.
  • Designed for all populations using the space: well-lit, improved ventilation (including regular air exchange) with room controls and equipment that meets the needs of the students and instructors.
  • Teaching labs that incorporate elements of active and collaborative learning are part of a vision for campus learning spaces of many different sizes.

High-Impact Practices (HIPs)

  • Both physical and virtual affordances help maximize HIPs for student learning within and beyond this classroom.


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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