Amazing! Incredible! New Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library

Library 2357 085
March 31 and open for business Photo: Charles Barry

Hundreds gathered for the occasion on March 14: the christening of a landmark structure whose copper roofs beckoned a future that was arriving now. It was no secret that this place—the Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library—was built to be the intellectual hub of the Mission campus.
From its architecture to its furnishings, from the rare books and archives to snazzy wall-sized LCD screens, the new facility blends the traditional with the futuristic, allowing for conventional, solitary scholarly experiences while encouraging collaborative learning.

What was a secret, though, was the name—which was literally kept under wraps until the dedication ceremony itself.

The 194,000-square-foot secret

Construction on the $95-million facility began in summer 2006, near the end of a five-year fundraising campaign, “The Campaign for Santa Clara,” which brought in $400 million for endowed fellowships, scholarships, and capital projects. The building was made possible thanks to dozens of donors, including Silicon Valley real estate developer John A. Sobrato ’60 and his family, who donated $20 million toward the technology center.
Philanthropist Lorry I. Lokey, founder of Business Wire Inc. and a member of the SCU Board of Trustees, donated $25 million toward the Learning Commons. It was his longtime and dear friend Joanne Harrington, a member of SCU’s Board of Fellows, who introduced him to Santa Clara some years back. He had a special surprise in store for Harrington in March: Her name was one of those on the new building.

The emotions of the moment had Lokey choking back tears. The folks in attendance were thrilled; they clapped, they cheered. Not only was this the coolest building on campus, it had a love story behind it.

“I can’t wait to study here!”

The new building opened its doors to the public on March 31. President Paul Locatelli, S.J., and Provost Lucia Gilbert were joined by Congressman Mike Honda (D-Santa Clara) for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Honda helped secure roughly $1.5 million in federal funding for the project.
Once the doors were open, students were abuzz with enthusiasm. They thrilled at the technology on display—dozens of Dell PCs and Macs, the hottest machines on campus. They roamed the corridors giddy at the prospect that the collaborative rooms with LCD screens were now theirs to use for developing presentations and class projects. They stood on the outdoor terraces and in the stately St. Clare Room—but then they kept moving. So much to see!

In the study rooms, they scrawled enthusiastic cheers on the floor-to-ceiling white boards (Amazing! Incredible! Woo-hoo!) and they said, “I can’t wait to study here!” They said, “I’m coming here every day, even when I don’t have homework!”

Locatelli observed that this “extraordinary building at the frontier…is a tribute to the tradition of Jesuit education and a world-class resource.”

Plus, you can take food inside. And, since fostering collaboration is part of the plan, you can even talk without being told to hush.

—DA, KCS, and SBS

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