Dedication ceremony held for Chaparall Hall

Ryan Hecksel / Staff Photographer CSUN President Jolene Koester and representatives from CannonDesign officially dedicate CSUN’s newest science building, Chaparral Hall.
CSUN President Jolene Koester and representatives from CannonDesign officially dedicate CSUN’s newest science building, Chaparral Hall. Photo Credit: Ryan Hecksel / Staff Photographer

CSUN officials cut the celebratory ribbon Friday to officially dedicate the newest science building of Chaparral Hall.

Tours of the 90,000 square foot building were held at 2 p.m. followed by a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m..  Designed by CannonDesign, the state-of-the-art building houses the College of Science and Mathematics and has already won two American Institute Design awards.

CSUN President Jolene Koester attended the ceremony and said the building will mark an advancement for the university.

“It means a state-of-the art facility for one of our premier academic programs,” Koester said.  “It means a renewed physical environment for students and faculty to study and learn together.  It means a graceful, wonderfully designed building that faculty, staff and students will enjoy being in.”

The four-story building cost 46 million and boasts ‘smart’ classrooms, said Charles Abbott, a 27-year-old grad student majoring in biology with a focus in neurophysiology and tour guide for the event.  These lecture rooms feature full connectivity to the Internet, computer touch screens and three viewing screens for nearly 152 seats.  The emergency system for eye contamination is also equipped to be ‘smart.’  By pulling a lever, the showerhead on the ceiling sprays water to the individual and an alarm will sound to alert campus police and 911.

Abbott said the new building is designed to be more efficient and convenient.

“A lot of the labs were designed by the professor so everything was optimized so you can work efficiently and do your research without any hindrance,” Abbott said.  “We have nano-pure water, double-distilled water. It’s a huge advantage because it’s a lot easier for research.”

The exterior is designed to look like a gel and the outside windows represent a DNA strand, Abbott said.  Everything is handicap accessible.  The paint scheme inside the building symbolizes the surrounding classrooms.  Blue walls indicate research labs and yellow “nacho” colored walls represent instructional classrooms.

Michael Smith, the principal of operations for CannonDesign, said even the exterior stairs are designed to be more welcoming to passersby.

“We wanted a place that would be memorable, that people would recognize it easily, that would be a destination place,” Smith said.

Chaparral Hall is considered a ‘green’ building because of the many eco-friendly features.

Martha Ball, the associate principal and architect at CannonDesign, said a lot of the material is made from recyclable content and simple design like exposed concrete.  There is a reflective roof, automatic lights, waterless urinals, a lot of natural lighting and drought-tolerant plants that are native to California.  The university was also able to receive local grants to help fund the building because it exceeded environmental codes by 10 to 15 percent, Ball said.

CSUN Provost, Harry Hellenbrand, said the dedication of Chaparral Hall has been a long-awaited event.  The first plans were sketched in 1994 and construction began in 2007.

“It takes a village to put a building like this together,” Hellenbrand said.  “It is a place for people to discover and learn, and a testimony to what this university does.”

Despite the smart classrooms and state-of-the-art facility, there is one thing that Abbott would like to see added in the near future.  “Paper towels,” he said.