M Moser Associates has designed Yale University’s first facility in China
The project was conceived as a flexible, high-tech fusion of workspace, events venue and learning centre, as the facility is the American university's first in China. M Moser Associates wanted to create a true Yale experience through the project, despite the thousands of kilometres between the New Haven campus and the Beijing outpost. Project leader Donn Tan noted, “Yale wanted their first facility in China to be unique in itself, but also to offer its users a 'Yale experience'. That was the greatest challenge in the project – presenting the best of both worlds.”
The identity of the university can be seen immediately upon entering the reception, where a distinctive curved wall utilises the Yale blue that the university is recognised by. Reception also flows directly into a long, naturally lit dining area/lounge/discussion area which runs along the very edge of the floor plate. By simply removing or rearranging some lightweight tables and chairs, it and reception are transformed into a single large venue for social events, exhibitions or large-scale lectures.
Nearby is the facility's sole single-purpose space – a tiered, amphitheatre-like lecture hall, bordered by a pair of glass-fronted booths for translators. Combining architecture and technology: the shape, materials and alignments of the lecture hall were optimised around a cutting edge AV system.
The back-of-house areas at the opposite end of the floor take a different approach: Rather than being defined by curves, its spaces – including a series of small discussion/office rooms and a large open-plan study area – are precisely delineated by straight lines. The use of transparent, operable walls enable the main discussion room to be instantly transformed from one large space into two or three smaller rooms as needed.