Five lesser-known study spots to boost up your productivity

Michael Belding

In their efforts to recruit you, new student, Iowa State probably bombed your mailbox (heck, maybe they’ve started emailing middle school kids) with fliers and brochures about how you could spend collegiate career here. Many of those probably directed you to “enjoy your adventure at Iowa State.”

Like any other step of growing up, college is truly an adventure. The time (four years, give or take) you will spend here are rife with opportunities to learn, have fun, develop your talents and interests, and gain work experience. The realm of possibility is bursting at the seams.

From time to time, as you wander our beautiful and expansive campus, you may stumble into locations that are even more enchanting and relaxing than the staple landmarks shown to everybody by Stars or Cyclone Aides on campus tours. You may find a great new place to socialize, study for class,or maybe just take a nap in the sunny afternoon. If you will permit me, I’d like to take you on a tour of my favorite places to get things done. Here are my top five, both indoors and out.

With its 262,568 square feet, Agronomy Hall is one of the larger buildings on campus. It’s hard to miss, but unlike many of the other structures we have, Agronomy is a weird kind of horseshoe shape. One of the legs of that horseshoe skews off to the east, but in between the legs of that southward-opening horseshoe, there is a beautiful green space that you will probably miss unless you walk through it going out of Agronomy or pass by it on the north side of Landscape Architecture or Hamilton Hall. The area is open and has lots of benches you and your pals can pass the time on.

Home to our department of psychology (among other purposes) and one of the better cafes on campus, Lago looks more like a classical academic building out of England than any other in Ames. Walking up to its entryway, you’ll pass beautiful trees that, come springtime, bloom more pink than a ballerina’s tutu.

The courtyard there is pretty large; the good groundskeepers of Iowa State have partitioned it into multiple parts. Each one has benches under shade trees, and if you pass through the iron gate at the far end, another courtyard opens up. Be careful where you turn when walking through Lago; the building is a maze, and if you open the wrong door, you may find yourself outside. If you want to study in a classical academic setting, you won’t want to miss this one. The ghosts of our learned predecessors inhabit this kind of place above all others, I’m sure, and the occasional seance might be inspiring.

Located on the second floor of the Memorial Union above the revolving door on the west side, the West Lounge provides students with a quiet environment to use at their leisure and convenience.

While the area does have chairs and sofas to sit on in living room-style arrangements around coffee tables, there are also desks and work tables along the west wall.

If you’re lucky enough to sit at one of those, you’ll have a great westward view across Lake Laverne into one of Iowa State’s classic landscapes, from one of its most recognizable buildings.

Located just outside of the Periodical Room, the Upper Rotunda of Parks Library is one of the quieter open spaces in our lighthouse of learning. The seating is limited, but if your fortune holds, you’ll be able to snag a seat at one of the tables in the middle of the room. Bring a fully-charged laptop though, because the electrical outlets up there are few and distant from the tables.

The trade-off, however, is more than worth it. Being an upper rotunda, the ceiling is higher than any you’d encounter in a normal building. Indeed, the whole flow of the room directs attention upward, as that is where the action is: The top of the rotunda’s glass and its light fixtures provide ample brightness (far better, certainly, than that fluorescent nonsense used in the rest of the library). For art, a mural surrounds the door into the Periodical Room, and portraits of all Iowa State’s university presidents hang on the walls.

The Upper Rotunda is, if you let it, one of the rooms on campus most conducive to productivity, as well as one of the most inspiring.

In trying to navigate Food Sciences one afternoon my junior year, I opened the first door I could find with daylight in the window. While that move was a mistake, as it landed me smack in the middle of the building, it proved to be a pretty good one on balance.

Truly, this is one of the most calming, enchanting, and peaceful courtyards on campus. Trees grow in the grass, and the crunch of gravel underfoot on the pathways highlights the stillness of the place. Whenever I walk through the door, I hesitate to breathe for fear of disturbing the balanced poise of the air. Here, time stops, and worries fall away.