Here’s a wonderful example of furniture to equip the social learning floor at the ACU library. I think where it all begins is with the recognition of the need for a social learning floor in the first place.
ACU Library Photo Caption: Computer pods are the central feature of our social learning floor. The design is custom created to support group work. Tables are in a boomerang shape clustered around a central pillar with four computers. The pillar is furred out to create a hollow space to conceal wiring. The shape of the curve on each side of the pods is such that three to four people can work inside the curve and still have an unobstructed view of the computer screen.
Each pod accommodates 12-16 people. There are 6 of these pods on the main floor.
Power, data, and mobile outlets on the pillar let one connect laptops and mobile devices. The arms of the tables are approximately 4 feet by 2.5 feet wide, allowing plenty of room to spread out books and papers.
UPDATE: Here’s a presentation by Laura Baker in which she walks us through the reasoning in the design. While directed towards a library audience, the design process is well worth a listen for anyone supporting social learning spaces.
UPDATE 2/12/2012: Here’s my notes from my visit to the Abilene Christian University Library. I was blown away by their Learning Commons on the 1st floor, but also their Learning Studio and the Theological Reading room on the second floor. What an outstanding example of space design!