Best of the Year

Occidental’s McKinnon Center for Global Affairs – architect Hagy Belzberg’s radical re-imagining of the interior of one of the College’s original 100-year-old buildings – is the recipient of a prestigious 2014 "Best of the Year" Award from Interior Design magazine.

The work of Belzberg – who also was inducted into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame – "continues to dazzle," the magazine said. "He upended the conventional educational model with an academic building at Occidental College, eschewing blackboards and bulletin boards for the slumped glass and printed vinyl of what he calls a "digital Post-it wall." It’s kinetic, interactive—a magnum opus of technology."

Other finalists in the university education category were projects at Reed College, MIT and Georgetown University.  Architects and designers vote on category finalists, and Cindy Allen, editor and chief of Interior Design, and a jury of industry members selects the winners. This year’s ninth annual Awards competition received more than 2,000 submissions.

Formally dedicated in spring 2014, the McKinnon Center houses all of Occidental’s international programs in one signature building that synthesizes technology, design, architecture and the college’s curriculum. The building’s centerpiece is the Global Crossroads, a two-story interactive digital gallery and public space that displays student research, live news and social media feeds, serves as a teaching and collaborative tool, and a digital archive.

The center also houses Choi Auditorium, which originally served as the college chapel and today has been repurposed as Occidental’s premiere classroom, meeting and lecture space.

Interior Design is the latest media outlet to recognize the McKinnon Center, which also has been featured in Fast Company, University Business, The Architect’s Newspaper and other publications.

Occidental has been a leader in international liberal arts and sciences education for almost a century. Its motto, Occidens Proximus Orienti – The West is Nearest the East – foreshadowed the creation of its first study abroad program in 1916. Today, college programs include the Young Initiative on the Global Economy, the William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program, the International Programs Office, and a major in Diplomacy and World Affairs.

More than two-thirds of the faculty is engaged in some form of international teaching, research, or partnership, and two-thirds of students participate in international research, learning, and extracurricular activities.