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Watson Delivers Custom School Furniture for 415,000-square-foot College Campus Project in Austin

Austin Community College completed a transformative project in 2021, culminating an 11-year effort and a multi-million-dollar investment. The campus project converted the 1970s-era Highland Mall into a modern, expansive learning and training complex, reshaping both higher education and the community it serves. At a time when many industries were at a standstill, Watson’s service team delivered custom school furniture solutions for ACC Highland’s private offices, public workspaces, and computer labs.

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The newly revamped ACC Highland spans an impressive 415,000 square feet, making it the college's largest campus. It now hosts over 20 programs and four innovation hubs and even features a student-run restaurant, among other amenities. To achieve this transformation, Watson's studio program collaborated with the Austin-based design team Edwards + Mulhausen to customize standard products to meet specific needs.

Lucas Pearl, Vice President of Product Development at Watson, noted the project's complexity and scale, highlighting how their team worked across furniture collections to outfit a wide range of environments.

“Solutions as complex and intriguing as the ACC Highland project highlight our ability to work across product lines to provide a blended solution that exactly fits the customer’s needs,” said Pearl. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we did this on the first try and within standard lead time, which speaks to the attention to detail our sales, specification, and engineering teams apply to every project.”

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The office furniture solutions provided by Watson embody a function-first, minimalistic design ethos, offering unmatched configuration capabilities that helped create multi-functional spaces promoting collaboration and productivity. With rapid advancements in technology and unprecedented access to information, higher education professionals are constantly adapting to how and where learning happens. Institutions must rethink traditional classroom environments to support hybrid learning while creating open spaces to inspire multidisciplinary collaboration, peer teaching, and socialization.

The ACC Higland Campus project stands out as one of the first of its kind, serving as a model for other community colleges and universities nationwide, inspiring them to rethink their learning spaces and teaching methods.

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