Swenson Family Hall of Engineering
Fowler School of Engineering
The Swenson Family Hall of Engineering, located in the Keck Center for Science and Engineering at Chapman University, 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.
The ideation path is a wide hallway that bifurcates the lower level of the Engineering school. This gallery path connects the collaborative student spaces, the dean’s suite, and the fabrication labs through an angular walkway covered in a metal mesh ceiling. The path features views into workspaces and instructional spaces through glass walls and large operable partitions.
The Swiss Knife Element
In order to allow for future flexibility of work modes and collaboration, we developed a device we call the “Swiss Knife.” This element is a multi-functional pod that conceals folding doors and sliding doors. Its function is to provide all the functionality needed to keep the space open or to close it off into two separate rooms that are distinct from the hallway. This allows the space to transform from private instruction to open forum to lounge on a weekly basis. The flexibility and agility of the partition system is key to the success of the “Ideation Zone."
The interconnecting stair is a functional element but also serves as a visual attractor for social activity. The lower part of the stair is shaped to encourage students and faculty to sit and chat at the confluence of a main circulation pathway and around the corner from the dean’s suite. The stair is made of sculptural wood shadpes at the base and perforated metal at the top. It signifies the intersection of craft and technology. The perforated metal guardrails are supported by a steel armature onto which the handrails are fastened. At the second level, the guardrails extend up to the ceiling to express verticality.
Throughout the project, multiple study pods have been carved out of leftover spaces, along corridors, along window walls, and in small nooks near the elevator. The study pods are open booths that are designed to be acoustically dampened and well lit.
- 2021 AIA Pasadena & Foothill Chapter
- Institutional / Educational Merit Award