University of Michigan Law School, Hutchins Hall Classroom Renovation

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The impetus of this project is the continued effort by the law school to upgrade the teaching spaces within Hutchins Hall. This classroom’s long and narrow seating arrangement was modified to reorient the space 90 degrees, thus shortening the overall distance between the teacher and students.

The new layout accommodates 74 students, with seating arranged in ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY74COST PER SQ FT$178.00FEATURED IN2007 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation arcs, creating a sense of community among students. This physical arrangement encourages more student interaction and dialogue, and departs from the former “hierarchy” of the original layout.

Also important, the design allows for an alternate table/seating arrangement for seminar classes. The front row of the tables are mobile so they can be arranged and “docked” around the teaching station to form a large conference arrangement. The ceiling above the seminar setup is lower to give a sense of intimacy more appropriate for a seminar arrangement of 14 students.

The performance of the space as a teaching classroom is improved dramatically. Changing the orientation of the space allowed for acoustical, technological and material upgrades. Both the floor and ceiling are tiered, which helps project sound and improve student sightlines toward the front of the room. The tiered ceiling incorporates acoustical ceiling panels to reduce sound reverberation and improves the acoustical quality. The walls also are treated acoustically. New, fabric-wrapped acoustical panels are installed on a portion of the walls above the existing brick wainscot.

New multimedia equipment was incorporated to help facilitate current teaching methodologies. A projector was installed, along with a camera to record teaching sessions. Window screening and darkening shades help reduce the amount of glare on computer screens and black out direct sunlight to facilitate multimedia presentations.

The mechanical and electrical support systems were updated, and air conditioning was added.