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Exterior of the Harvey Mudd McGregor Computer Science Center

Harvey Mudd College | McGregor Computer Science Center

Harvey Mudd College | McGregor Computer Science Center | Claremont, CA

The Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center at Harvey Mudd College provides a much-needed new home for the college’s rapidly growing Computer Science Department and creates room to grow from 16 to 25 faculty positions over time. It also houses a permanent makerspace, open to all students at Harvey Mudd and across The Claremont Colleges. For a science and engineering focused college like Harvey Mudd, the integration of a campus-wide makerspace was especially important to nurture the aspirations of faculty and students, and to showcase their talents. The project’s design is tied to strategies that invigorate interdisciplinary collaboration and project-based learning.

Project Details

The three-story, 36,000-square-foot academic building features a welcoming, expansive lobby at the first floor, as well as ample study, hangout, and collaboration spaces for students. On the second and third floors, faculty offices, clinic and project studios, teaching and research laboratories and collaboration spaces serve the computer science program. The now contiguous computer science space brings together previously fragmented elements such as student project areas, clinic program work areas and computer labs. These floors encircle a central courtyard that brings transparency and natural light to the building’s circulation spaces.

At the heart of the building’s first floor is the multi-disciplinary, collaborative makerspace that creates one large open workspace for networking and socialization. The space’s zoned layout includes a collaborative lounge, co-working and idea development areas with a welding station, 3D printer, robotics lab and laser cutter. To complement the rapid prototyping and light-to-medium fabrication spaces, the makerspace is adjacent to renovated and repositioned metal and wood machine shops, which provide for heavy fabrication needs.

The Challenges

The project team worked together closely to achieve the McGregor Computer Science Center’s unique aesthetic, balancing form and function while staying within budget.

With its unconventional angles and tight tolerances, the building’s unique exterior design and shape was the most obvious challenge for the construction team.

At the building’s interior, the sweeping main entry stair was a central feature to the project design. Its form presented a unique challenge for the construction team, as it fans out as it descends.

Interior courtyard of glass building with students
Exterior view of metal and glass building from the street
Orange interior staircase and student lounge
The Solutions

From the start, the team leveraged target-value design. The project team implemented collaborative budget execution, and early trade partner feedback helped inform design and overall contract documents. The team worked through detail issues and priced them as they came up, ensuring the solution fit within the project budget.


In collaboration with the Steinberg Hart design team, DPR anticipated and resolved any outstanding issues, leveraging the knowledge of its self-perform work crew and trade partners. The team meticulously delivered the nonstandard shapes and angles, carefully coordinating to ensure that every turn looked intentional and well-planned. Utilizing the BIM model and site walks, the team addressed the cantilevers, unusual corners, roof setbacks, and other details. For example, on the west elevation, there was one transition where the metal panel system was in and out of plane. The project team scrutinized joint consistency and plumbness with the building, confirming the detail and accounting for the allowable tolerances.

The central stair required precise coordination for the foundation, installation and detailing. The team laser scanned the prefabricated curve track and stairs to ensure that the custom pieces were a perfect fit prior to installation. To laser cut and form precision-matched pieces, the stair and handrail subcontractors were also able to leverage the same laser-scanned VDC model to put the finishing touches on the stair.

Students studying in the hallway on blue carpet
Orange feature staircase and study space with conference table
Orange staircase descending into a student lounge at Harvey Mudd College
Project Awards

ENR California

Best Higher Education / Research Project in Southern California 2021

ENR California awarded the Harvey Mudd College McGregor Computer Science Center project as "Southern California’s Best Higher Education / Research Project" in 2021. Judges independently review entries using five criteria, including Overcoming Challenges & Teamwork, Safety, and Construction Quality & Craftsmanship.

Exterior of building with customized metal panel skin
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