University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Chapman Hall

Physical Sciences Home Designed for Flexibility

The Max C. Chapman Jr. Hall is is home to a range of interdisciplinary teaching and research programs and the centerpiece of the new Physical Sciences Murray Quadrangle on the Chapel Hill campus. Designed as a focal building, it is sited at the head of the gently sloping quadrangle and is tied to key pedestrian pathways that organize movement across the main campus. Chapman Hall’s floors register with these pathways allowing for ease of access to the classrooms and research labs within, making it the hub and a tremendous resource for the Physical Sciences.

Quiet and high bay labs for Chemistry, Physics, and Math are situated below grade. On grade, there are three large lecture halls. The upper floors house Marine Science and a roof top Astronomy terrace. The building’s flexible 22’-by-30’ modular design of shell and core space accommodates a wide variety of program up-fit and provides the University with a highly flexible building for years to come.

Chapman Hall houses the Institute for Advanced Materials (IAM). The IAM is comprised of ten nano sciences faculty, nano, and high bay laboratories on the basement level, laser labs, and dry labs on the ground level, a cleanroom on Level 1, and offices on Level 2. The shell and core of the building bear a thickened concrete structure for stiffness, and the high-bay labs and vibration pits are located below grade for cryogenics. The air handlers are located on the roof to reserve the basement as dedicated space for high-performance scientific experiments.

Chapman Hall’s public spaces engage students from many disciplines, and the building serves as a nexus for academic and social activity. The main entry lobby is a broad two-story space that interconnects the lecture halls and teaching labs. In the entry lobby, one side depicts remote observing – the macro scale, and the other side depicts nanotechnology – the micro scale. Teaching spaces are commingled with research spaces. Laboratories have adjacent meeting space. Offices are flooded with light from generous windows.

Designed to handle large numbers of students between classes, it is conceived of as an outdoor street that is an extension of the quadrangle beyond. Other generous lobbies and break areas along corridors promote informal gatherings and a sense of community among the building occupants. Floor-to-ceiling windows draw natural light deep into the labs, offices, and classrooms, creating an environment conducive to teaching and learning and providing a visual connection with the campus beyond.


Chapel Hill, NC

Building Type

Research Labs, Teaching Labs, Classroom, Seminar, Office, Break Out Space


128,000 SF

  • 2007, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), Award of Merit

Download Project