The acclaimed architecture and interior design firm Spacesmith has transformed a former chemistry library into much-needed classroom space for Chandler Hall, a 1928 facility at Columbia University in New York City housing the school’s Department of Chemistry. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting will take place June 14th at 12 noon to inaugurate the new facilities.The compact, innovative transformation presents a flexible design that speaks to new demands of the modern-day classroom. Adjacent spaces on the floor below were also renovated to house several relocated private and shared offices.

The newly renovated academic areas total about 6,500 square feet and include:

• Enhanced acoustics ideal for verbal presentations
• Technical capabilities to support digital presentations and teleconferencing
• Spaces that can adapt to diverse student needs and allow for collaboration
In order to make this classroom space inclusive, two smaller rooms were designed as dedicated testing areas for students with documented disabilities. This provides students with a more intimate, quiet work area that offers significant natural light. Two larger rooms are utilized for classes and lecture halls, featuring rows of fixed table systems with seats that are able to rotate 180 degrees so that students can easily collaborate when needed. The largest lecture room, able to hold 125 students, provides ADA accessible seating throughout, as well as state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.

“We are seeing with our clients that classrooms are assigned to a multitude of departments and professors,” says architect Will Wong AIA, LEED AP, an associate with Spacesmith  “Instead of the traditional professor dictating the content scenario, we are seeing collaborative group work environments that require mobile, adjustable furniture, and private spaces for students to huddle together.”

The project highlights Spacesmith’s relentless commitment to designing functional, research-driven spaces that respond to evolving university needs; specifically, adaptable furniture and noise reduction. Prior to beginning, the firm completed a feasibility study and schematic design that also included direct feedback from key stakeholders, faculty and several administrative departments.