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October 27, 2021
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Work Completed on New Facility at Chapman University in Orange


Chapman University has completed construction of its Sandi Simon Center for Dance, a cutting-edge two-story facility designed to propel the university’s dance program to new levels of excellence. The 70k sf project was built by R.D. Olson Construction.

Located at 350 N. Cypress in Old Towne Orange, the project involves the adaptive reuse of the historic Villa Park Orchards building located on the west side of the campus just north of the K Residence Hall. The interior renovation strategy was designed around preserving the building’s existing spaciousness, curved corners and natural light from clerestory windows, which are ideal for today’s dance education needs.

The first phase of the project comprises a structural retrofit of the building, with 39k sf reserved for Chapman’s nationally accredited dance department. The second phase will complete the studio build-out, with a target project completion of June 2022. According to Bill Wilhelm, president at R.D. Olson Construction, the specialized nature of this project – being both a dance facility and historic retrofit – led Chapman University to opt for a design-build-assist delivery method

The Sandi Simon Center for Dance will feature six dance studios, one that can convert into an intimate performance space with state-of-the-art audio, lighting and video features, bleachers to seat 100, and operable glass walls that allow the performance studio to be open or closed-off to the lobby as needed. One studio upstairs will be dedicated to tap dancing, with all dance functions fully accommodated by the other five. All six of the studios will have top-of-the line wood-sprung Harlequin dance floors to reduce the risk of injury and help young artists perform optimally. Cutting-edge technological integrations will be suited for live musical accompaniment, live video conferencing and video shooting.

The historic sawtooth design and tilted clerestory windows will continue to drape the space in natural light. The center will be an open concept design with curved glass walls that allow accessible classroom viewing. To maintain the essence of the historical Villa Park Orchards building, many of the existing building materials will be reused in the renovation, with wood members such as ceilings and floors to be used in the walls, stairs and as other architectural finishes. The space will have a warm design with reclaimed wood features, concrete, exposed finishes, cork wall and acoustical paneling to contain the music from the multiple classrooms.

The space also will include a first aid and physical therapy room, classrooms, multipurpose rooms for student collaboration, a kitchen space, bathrooms, offices for administration, an elevator, a tap-flex studio for students to utilize as needed for practice or warm-ups, and a mezzanine that will function as a flex meeting room, classroom, informal meeting space or a place for students to lounge while waiting for class.

Other firms involved in the project include: architect LOHA; structural engineer Structural Focus; mechanical electrical pluming engineer Buro Happold; civil engineer KPFF; theatre and lighting consultant Auerbach + Associates; and acoustic consultant Veneklasen Associates.

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