Chapman University Campus Center at Rinker

Irvine, California

A 1980s office park building is transformed into a wellness-focused center for student life on Chapman University’s Rinker Health Science Campus.

An unoccupied and outdated two-story brick office building in an industrial park was redeveloped into the Campus Center at Rinker, the new heart of student life on the university’s thriving health science campus. An integrated design team worked with educators and students to open the nondescript, 45,000-square-foot building to the campus, highlighting mountain views and activating an array of outdoor spaces, while providing flexible environments to serve diverse needs identified by students, including food service, retail and wellness services.

The center was developed around an ethos of preservation and “doing more with less.” The design saves the bones of the original building, while completely re-imagining and adapting it for the university’s changing needs. The campus-facing facade of the dark, L-shaped structure was replaced with movable glass partitions, establishing a new entrance to the campus center, as well as an indoor-outdoor student lounge that serves as the building’s “front porch.” Clear, low-E insulated windows modernized the building and introduced natural light into the interior. At the south entrance, a two-story atrium and skylight were cut into the first floor, flooding the space with light and creating a dramatic visual icon for the campus.

Throughout the Fitwel-certified center, spaces are designed to support the well-being of a diverse student body. Input from LPA’s Sustainability and Applied Research team helped establish an evidence-based framework for evaluating and implementing biophilic design strategies proven to reduce stress, enhance cognitive performance and elevate mood. Materials and natural daylight help create connections to nature. The entry experience was choreographed around the biophilic concept of “prospect,” the sense of safety and control one feels experiencing a larger space from a smaller comfortable space.

The new center is designed to provide the campus with flexibility and adaptability to address shifts in priorities and increase connections to outdoor spaces. Spaces can be easily reconfigured. Parking lots were replaced by a student plaza, linking the building to the overall campus and the university’s goal of creating a healthier environment for students.

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