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Newport Beach

Chapman Swenson Family Hall of Engineering

Innovative spaces + cutting-edge technology for a forward-thinking department

Orange, CA
Project Type
Year Completed
Project size
31,000 sq. ft
Lawrence Anderson

Chapman University in Orange, CA recently opened a new home for its engineering school. The Swenson Family Hall of Engineering was created through a 31,000-square-foot interior build-out of the university’s existing Keck Center for Science and Engineering. The new wing occupies three floors and features amenities like research and teaching labs, a makerspace and robotics lab, and more.

This new space is envisioned not only as the campus epicenter for innovative thinking but as an inclusive social hub where cross-pollination of ideas can occur between faculty members and students. At the heart of the School is a Design/Create/Innovate (DCI Lab), a makerspace for experimentation and collaboration space for idea incubation. This main space includes a series of operable partitions and modular design that allow for a flexible and adaptable space supporting collaboration, presentation, and showcase events. Upper floors include faculty office space and instructional teaching labs, including: active learning classrooms; a circuits and structures lab; and  a signals and cyber lab.

The space occupies three consecutive floors:  the first level designed to be a collaborative student space traversed by a gallery or ‘ideation path’ connecting to the existing building; the second floor that includes labs, study alcoves, and research pods; and the third floor dedicated to faculty workspaces and meeting rooms.

Architecture firm AC Martin engaged Tangram to provide contract furniture and technology across all three floors, including administration workstations, faculty workstations, breakrooms, meeting rooms, collaborative huddle spaces, computer research pods, labs, study pods, open lounge spaces and outdoor lounge spaces. Highlights include Steelcase media:scape table with Shortcut chairs + screen display for collaborative huddle spaces, Steelcase Brody to provide privacy within a social open area, and Hightower Kilo as a lounge respite in between classrooms and labs.

Because Chapman’s Fowler School of Engineering is inherently forward-thinking, they wanted their space to be equally innovative and creative. This was evident in their desire to incorporate Steelcase Mackinac into their workspace, a beautiful desk system that establishes microzones within the open area. This system is often found in creative workspaces, so the chance to work it into an education space was unique, exciting and cutting-edge. The result was a beautiful and residential-inspired workspace that allowed for privacy but kept the open feel of the greater space. Collaborating closely with Steelcase, Tangram was able to provide a massive scope of beautiful and functional furniture that serves many functions and is used by administration, faculty and students alike, as well as integrated state-of-the-art technology. Each piece was selected with great intention to support various styles of work, education, studying, collaborating, innovating and socializing.

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