Innovative Furniture Plant to University Campus

Here is an example of how innovative thinking at a Furniture Plant influenced what is today William Jessup University, the location of the STEM Expo.

Innovation is all around us. Sometimes we just don't notice it. What is today may be very different from what was yesterday - or tomorrow. Such is the case with William Jessup's University Campus in Rocklin, CA.

Now a Liberal Arts University, this campus was once the Western Region Manufacturing & Distribution Facility Plant for an innovative furniture company. Herman Miller, well known for edgy but creative designs, contracted an architect to build a 400,000 square foot factory in Rocklin, CA. The architect chosen was none other than Frank O. Gehry, the now renowned designer of many architectural feats, including Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

As evidenced by the illustrations, the concept was nothing short of exuberant. In 1991, it was awarded the National Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Fast forward 10 years: San Jose Christian College President Bryce Jessup was looking to relocate from a landlocked San Jose campus and stumbled upon the sale of the Herman Miller property. Realizing the potential it had as a campus that would inspire learning and innovation, San Jose Christian College purchased it and changed its name to William Jessup University, after its founder.

After much renovation and collaboration, the warehouses were retro-fitted into a spacious indoor-outdoor campus with classrooms, dormitories, offices, lounges and athletics. By Fall of 2004, William Jessup University of Rocklin opened its doors as a fully functioning and accredited University Campus. Renovation for campus use received the Best Rebuild/Renovation Award from the Sacramento Business Journal in March 2005 and similarly recognized in 2006 by the San Joaquin chapter of the AIA. As the University has continued to grow, Gehry’s design has become a permanent staple of campus architecture. In 2010, an entirely new apartment building was unveiled on campus and awarded again by the AIA for excellence in design and adhering to Gehry’s original style.

See if you can figure out what has changed in the picture slideshow. Hint: it’s BIG! When you come to STEM Expo, take a look around and see how a few people who chose to be innovative changed the landscape of Rocklin and the campus of a university. Innovation is all around us. Sometimes we just need to notice it.