DES MOINES — The Iowa Judicial Branch Building in Des Moines is transitioning from paper to digital files and as filing cabinets are moved out, one big room is being emptied.

Andrea Quam, a professor for graphic design at Iowa State University, says the chief justice talked with ISU’s president about the possibilities for creating — something — in that soon-to-be-vacant room.

“They had a storage space that had been previously used for analog files and with their digital system, there’s an opportunity for that space to be opening up,” Quam says. “The students had an opportunity to work on interdisciplinary teams in the College of Design to create design proposals for what could happen in that space.”

In preparing for the project, the ISU students toured the Colorado Judicial Learning Center in Denver to learn about its beginnings and how it was designed. Their proposals include turning the space in the building just south of the state capitol into an experimental learning center for the public.

“They ran the gamut from analog to high technology, virtual technology to photo opportunities,” Quam says. “They really wanted to look at opportunities to educate the public.”

One plan calls for a virtual reality courtroom, touch-screen learning opportunities, Iowa judicial trivia and more.

“They really wanted to look at opportunities to educate the public about the judicial system,” Quam says. “It’s important and it affects our daily lives, and also to create an engaging place that people would want to return to.”

A panel will review the students’ proposals in the next few months before moving forward. This marks the first-ever collaboration between Iowa State University and the Iowa Judicial Branch.