American Seating

Baylor College of Medicine


Stellar® Series 35-220 with Tablet Arms, Omnia product with flip-up tops, and Focus™ Acton Swing-Away


1,075 chairs over the past three years in four different auditoriums and classrooms


Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center, Houston


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Finding the Right Prescription

American Seating and Baylor College of Medicine Build a Valuable Partnership

American Seating has more than a century of providing innovative solutions for the education market by offering its customers quality seating products known for their durability, comfort, style and reliability. So in 2006 when Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), one of the premier medical schools in the country, located in the world’s largest medical district in Houston, Texas, needed to update the seating in its 400-seat Cullen Auditorium, American Seating was eager to find solutions to the college’s seating challenges. What resulted from this one project is the story of a successful partnership that continues to grow as the college expands and reinvests in its facilities and buildings.

Finding a Joint Solution

The Cullen Auditorium is housed in the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, the college’s first structure built in 1947. The venerable building’s exterior features vertical art deco elements and relief panels depicting the history of modern medicine. Inside, prior to the renovation, the Cullen Auditorium featured theater seating and a traditional design, but it needed a “facelift” to become more up-to-date in style, comfort and accessibility. The college was also looking to add functionality to accommodate the demands of a facility with ever growing technology needs. Seating for this historic auditorium had never been replaced; in fact, the seats were simply re-upholstered occasionally over thirty years, requiring constant repair and expensive maintenance. Selecting the best seating for the revamped auditorium presented BCM with several design challenges.

The previous layout was designed to fit as many students as possible. As a result, the auditorium was overcrowded and cramped. The new seating needed to be ergonomic and comfortable for students who spend long hours listening to lectures and taking tests in the auditorium. Additionally, BCM needed to find seating that could blend well with the building’s art deco design, a challenge because the auditorium is also used for press conferences where their latest medical breakthroughs are announced. Furthermore, the older seating’s tablet arms were small and could not accommodate for laptop use, plus the original layout did not provide access to electrical and data outlets. Finally, another challenge was finding a product that allowed for better access inside the space for those with disabilities.

The BCM Strategic Capital Projects Group explained that they were looking for a product that was a combination of comfort, quality, design and optimal mounting options, but which was also cost effective and durable.

American Seating started the process by conducting a product presentation and an evaluation for students and staff to physically experience different seating options. The BCM team also desired a completely new configuration to allow for multiple applications. American Seating digitally mapped out the auditorium and presented several computer-generated charts with new seating layouts and designs, saving the college from the added cost of installation drawings.

One of the unique products presented for consideration was the company’s Stellar® Series 35-220. The Stellar Series has crisp, contemporary lines, which blends with the auditorium’s design and provides long-term durability. It is also shaped for comfort and full back support, while the hinged armrest makes it ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Additionally, the seating product incorporated large laptop tablet arms and power and data accommodations.

In the end, students and staff overwhelmingly enjoyed the comfort and ergonomics of the Stellar Series. As a result, 400 stylish, comfortable and ergonomically designed Stellar seats were installed in the Cullen Auditorium, bringing the post-World War II interior up-to-date with a 21st century look.

Selecting the Right Treatment

In medicine, selecting the right treatment is critical to the patient’s health, so two years later in 2008 when the college was looking at its next renovation project, BCM called on American Seating once again to provide the perfect solutions for their new challenge.

For this new project, the college needed to renovate its Jaworski classroom. Located within the Cullen Building, BCM wanted to make Jaworski a state-of-the-art classroom complete with a contemporary design to rival those of other medical schools. The renovated room would primarily be used by the college’s radiology students to view high resolution x-rays, MRIs and CAT scans. The students would also be able to watch surgeries in real-time through high-tech video equipment linking to surgery rooms in surrounding area hospitals.

After listening to what the college needed for this extensive renovation, which included the addition of two 50-inch flat screens and two projectors, American Seating provided a tailored product presentation. This time, the college selected the Omnia product. Seventy-five Omnia seats with an innovative, stylish and contemporary look, with flip-up tops, were installed. The American Seating product provided a strong design foundation for this high-tech and modern-looking classroom.

Another Seamless Procedure

Shortly after American Seating completed the installation at the Jaworski classroom, BCM once again called on the company for its next seamless procedure: the renovation of two of the school’s busiest auditoriums: the Kleberg and the McMillian Auditoriums in the Michael E. DeBakey Center for Biomedical Education and Research.

Originally built in 1978, the center is named after a world-renowned heart surgeon and one of the school’s past presidents. The center houses the major teaching areas for the college’s medical students, as well as an exhibit of Dr. DeBakey’s memorabilia. The auditoriums are adjacent to this medical breakthrough exhibit area.

In an effort to provide a more updated look and feel, the college decided that each auditorium’s current seating should be replaced with a more contemporary product. The college was also looking for a product that would provide comfort and durability, but just as importantly, that would maximize work surface space per seat.

Additionally, the manufacturer of the original seats had gone out of business several decades ago. This meant the college would often have trouble finding replacement parts for their old seats. Therefore, it was important for BCM that American Seating provide replacement parts for any of their products during their life cycle and at a good price point.

By working closely with BCM on all the issues, American Seating was able to meet all of their challenges and requirements. Working around tight schedules and tight environments–only one auditorium could be renovated at a time–American Seating was able to outfit Kleberg in late 2008 with 300 Focus™ Acton Swing-Away fixed lecture seats. The stylish product provides the maximum square-inch work surface available in the market today, approximately 540 to 600 square inches per seat.

Several months later, after completing the installation in Kleberg, American Seating installed another 300 Focus™ Acton Swing-Away fixed lecture product in McMillian Auditorium in early 2009.

Moving Forward

By providing design and functional seating solutions for its oldest auditorium, one state-of-the-art classroom and two of the school’s busiest teaching auditoriums, American Seating is poised to continue helping Baylor College of Medicine meet its growing and diverse facility seating needs. Much like a skilled physician recommends the perfect prescription to his patients, the partnership between American Seating and BCM is based on knowing and understanding the client’s needs and prescribing the best treatment for long-term success and growth.