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June 15, 2024
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$16.8 Mil Sandi Simon Center for Dance Completed at Chapman University


Chapman University has completed construction of its Sandi Simon Center for Dance, a project that involved the adaptive reuse of an historic Villa Park Orchards (VPO) packing house originally built in 1918. The work was done by R.D. Olson Construction.

Scheduled to open in the spring 2023 semester, Chapman dance students will be able to utilize the state-of-the-art facility that includes two distinct levels, high ceilings, and a mezzanine. At 39k sf, the new $16.8 mil dance center exceeds the National Association of Schools of Dance recommendation of 100 sf per dancer.

The building is designed to accommodate up to 150 students at one time and will provide several new spaces, including four studios (one dedicated just for tap dance), a 120-seat performance studio, two classrooms, a kitchen space, physical therapy training room, offices for faculty, and a student lounge with terrace.

The specialty work is seen in many details. The retrofitting of an existing empty shell involved cutting out the floor of the existing structure to build the new central studio. All the dance studios are outfitted with specialized “sprung” floors that are designed to absorb the impact of dancers’ movements, helping minimize injuries. There is also high-quality audio-visual equipment and performance lighting throughout the studios. Many existing windows were incorporated allowing for natural light.

Most strikingly, the builders meticulously removed a 100-year-old tongue-and-groove floor to then refinish and repurpose the maple wood boards. The salvaged pieces were ultimately used to create a 1,500-square-foot decorative wall in the common lobby.

Lorcan O’Herlihy is the architect for the project. The dance center, which broke ground in August of 2021, is located near Hilbert Museum of California Art and next to The K residence hall (both projects also built by R.D. Olson).

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