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McKinnon Center for Global Affairs Occidental College

Higher Education Development in California, USA – design by Belzberg Architects

May 12, 2014

McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College

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Renewal of Johnson Hall

Location: Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California, California, USA

Design: Belzberg Architects

The renovation and adaptive re-use of Occidental College’s historic Johnson Hall, integrates the enduring traditional qualities of a small liberal arts college with new educational practices. The renovation preserves the building’s historic exterior, while fundamentally rethinking the interior for modern-day teaching and learning using visual, networked, and participatory technology. The effect is fully transformative. Rather than simply housing technology, the building has become technology itself.

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph : Benny Chan

Johnson Hall reflects Occidental College’s commitment to educate all its students as “citizens of the world,” and to be the premier liberal arts institution for the study of global affairs. It is home to the newly established McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, as well as Departments of Politics, Diplomacy and World Affairs, foreign languages, and the International Programs Office, The global imperative of its curriculum challenged both architect and client to consider how people around the world communicate, act, and learn in the 21st Century.

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph : Benny Chan

Given the pervasive nature of technology and its contemporary applications in education, redesigning Johnson Hall necessarily entailed that the context of learning is no longer confined to physical space alone. To achieve a more immersive learning environment, the building’s original layout, based on cellular rooms and the division of circulation from program, was transformed into multilayered, overlapping spaces. This paradigm shift conceives of the entire building as a total learning environment, rather than a collection of classrooms. Areas of movement and transition are enhanced and activated, democratizing the functionality of rigid, formal learning styles associated with the standard classroom and lecture hall, and developing latent potentials in the communal spaces that adjoin and connect them.

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph : Iwan Baan

Classrooms were redesigned to be omnidirectional, flexible, and transparent, looking out to the central atrium of the Global Forum and into common areas and corridors to what is beyond, making visible the act of education itself, through spatial adjacency as well as material transparency and translucency. Technology-supported, collaborative learning is put on display via folding and sliding glass partitions that can make classrooms and surrounding common areas continuous.

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph : Iwan Baan

Educational discourse and dialogue do not end at the door of the classroom, but permeate throughout the entire building in transitional and informal gathering spaces. Hallways, which in the original building configuration were narrow and limited purely to circulation, have been widened and redesigned to serve as flexible, light-filled educational spaces. In keeping with the guiding concept of the total, immersive learning environment, such spaces incorporate floor-to-ceiling collaborative writing surfaces made from magnetized white glass, flexible community seating, and social/project areas.

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph : Iwan Baan

McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College – Building Information

Status: Completed January 1, 2014
Project Type: Higher Education
Building Type: Renovation / Adaptive Re-use
Area: 30,000 sf
Location: Los Angeles, CA
LEED: Silver Certified

Design Team:
Principal: Hagy Belzberg FAIA
Project Manager: Daniel Rentsch
Project Team: Chris Sanford, Susan Nwankpa, Ashley Coon, Chris Arntzen, Cory Taylor, David Cheung
Global Crossroads – Interactive Design and Development: Second Story Interactive Studios, Portland OR
Photographers: Benny Chan, Iwan Baan

Mckinnon Center For Global Affairs At Occidental College
photograph: Iwan Baan

McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College images / information from Belzberg Architects

Address: 1600 Campus Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90041, United States

Phone: +1 323-259-2500

Location: 1600 Campus Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90041, United States

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Website: McKinnon Center for Global Affairs at Occidental College