Oxy’s Johnson Hall to Reopen as High-Tech Global Forum

The historic building will house the McKinnon Family Center for Politics and Global Affairs this fall.

Johnson Hall at Occidental College. Photo credit: Occidental College website.
Johnson Hall at Occidental College. Photo credit: Occidental College website.

After more than a year of renovation, the nearly century-old Johnson Hall building at Occidental College will reopen for classes this coming fall—with a dramatic, high-tech twist: The building will be home to the McKinnon Family Center for Politics and Global Affairs, a state-of-the-art $10.2-million facility that will house a range of departments, including Politics, Diplomacy and World Affairs, Classical Studies, Spanish and French Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, German and Russian.

The center, which will also include the International Programs Office, is named in recognition of Occidental College alumnus Iain McKinnon (’89). Equipped with state-of-the-art digital media technologies, the ambitious new space “reflects a fundamental reconsideration of how people think, communicate, act, and learn in the emerging world communities of the 21st Century,” according to the Oxy website.

The building’s atrium boasts a two-story Media Wall. Equipped with curving, backlit glass panels and multiple embedded video screens, it is designed to showcase students’ work and portray textual and visual materials about key global issues. Next to the media wall will be the Varelas Innovation Lab, described as a “transparent thinking and working space.”

Classrooms will be provided with wireless and advanced digital media projection facilities. The old Johnson 200 lecture will be known as the Choi Family Auditorium, adjoining two upper-tier gallery classrooms that will have flexible glass walls. These facilities will comprise the Global Forum, the college’s “marketplace of ideas, images, and information about matters of international importance.”

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