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Adaptive Renovation to Promote Community

An outdated lecture hall transforms into a center welcoming communities beyond the student body


Stanford Law School's Lecture Hall 290 is the largest lecture hall on the law school campus. Constructed in 1974 and designed for the sole use of educating students, it reflected both an exterior and interior that was inwardly focused and separated from the broader campus context. SLS envisioned a space that manifests their commitment to a future-focused experience that builds knowledge, cultivates perspective, hones skills, and prepares students to espouse change. To keep in sync with SLS's forward-looking ethos, promise to ethical architecture, and its evolved sentiments around the community, learning, and teaching, MKThink reimagined the functionally outdated lecture hall to serve as a dynamic, premier learning environment for diverse populations while expanding the room's capacity without disturbing the existent footprint.


To increase the capacity of SLS's largest lecture hall, MKThink developed two different seating configurations. The front of the room is situated with mobile chairs placed around curved, tiered desks in modern lecture hall style. These chairs are easily removed or added for simple and quick adaptation to larger or smaller crowds as needed. Behind these mobile chairs are several rows of innovative, flexible seating that transforms from individual chairs into a single bench when chair-backs are collectively folded, increasing the number of people that can sit in the room. When in bench mode, these dynamic seats also focus sightlines when viewing the space from the front, achieving a more intimate setting for smaller groups. MKThink installed special temperature lighting, cloud acoustic paneling, cameras, various TV and video projection platforms, and speakers to enhance the room's responsiveness. Special care to finished surfaces improves the AV system's performance, and the front wall's configuration ensures excellent visibility from any point in the audience. Steel and metal contrast the softness of wood and fabric panels, creating a harmonious space that lets you feel you can be anywhere in the space and experience it differently.


The lecture hall transformed from a static 180-person room to a flexible space accommodating a range of group sizes and activities, a move that can strengthen community ties and enhance SLS's reputation as a friendly neighbor. It is one of the most advanced AV teaching facilities on the Stanford campus, and 300-plus people can enjoy the hall comfortably. The adaptive reuse of an existing space provides an ethical solution to growth, eliminating waste from demolishing an old building and constructing its replacement. The build less solve more strategy saved the school significant capital costs; MKThink's estimate suggests that this approach versus building new space saved the school over $4 million in capital costs.


Stanford Law School


Architectural Services
Schematic Design
Cost Estimation
Value Engineering
Construction Administration


Palo Alto, CA


10,000 SF


Higher Education


Future Forward Plan 2002
Master Plan Implementation
Crown Quad Architectural Services 2002-2008
Neukom Building Architectural Services 2009-2011
Space Optimization 2019-2020
Architectural Services 2020-Present

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