Advancing a bold strategic vision and master plan undertaken by the University at Albany, Perkins+Will New York has announced the newly completed School of Business building, to be unveiled at a campus ceremony on August 19 and attended by state officials, community business leaders and University faculty, staff and students. The building is significant both as a symbol of the recent success and distinctive trajectory of the School of Business, led by dean and management professor Donald S. Siegel, Ph.D., and because of its architectural context on a campus designed by renowned modernist Edward Durell Stone in the early 1960s.
“Our new home reinforces the values of the University and the School of Business, which are ingrained in the design,” Siegel says. “Universities should strive to embrace a variety of students and prepare them for today’s industries, and this building will help us do that,” he notes. The dean’s office adds that US News & World Report ranks theSchool of Business first in the U.S. for graduate job placement.
As sleek and elegant as it is efficient, the 96,000-square-foot facility serves 1,600 students and is tracking LEED Gold certification. Conceived by Perkins+Will design principal Robert Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP, as a strong reflection of the firm’s leadership in expressive and sustainable design, the building complements the University’s historic midcentury campus, resulting in continued critical acclaim. “This is a truly public institution, and the university’s goals of access, openness, and transparency are reflected in this design,” says Goodwin. “Unlike the imposing Ivory Tower-like concept behind many business schools, this program and its new building invite the world in. This deep-rooted SUNY tradition is embodied in this architectural design and in the campus plan.”
Designed by Perkins+Will New York and constructed under the leadership of Kirchhoff-Consigli Construction Management, the new building also reflects NYSUNY 2020, an initiative set in motion by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the State University of New York, and directed locally at University at Albany by new president, Robert J. Jones. NYSUNY 2020 is designed to make SUNY a leading catalyst for job growth throughout the state, strengthen the academic programs of the University Centers and demonstrate that New York is “open for business.”
Jones, who will also help delineate the strategic direction for the School of Business, was appointed last year after his successful tenure at the University of Minnesota System. He explains that the new facility both symbolizes and supports the future of the School of Business. “The University at Albany is expanding its engagement both locally and globally,” says Jones. “This building reflects our new strategic partnerships in commerce, entrepreneurship, and more, all of which will advance the School of Business and the whole university in our academic, economic, and social initiatives.”
Designed for engagement
The School of Business plays a pivotal role in broadening the University at Albany’s research and scholarship, while enhancing the student experience by offering unique collaborations with the region’s business community.
“The building has improved space for career development, corporate recruiting, and campus life, which ranges from minority and women student groups to fraternities, and to two entrepreneurship centers – one for social entrepreneurs and one for technology entrepreneurs,” says Siegel. One of the school’s many unique offerings is the Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED) program, which won a 2012 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award. The new building will also host the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), which brings together high school students from the surrounding community, and it will be the site of the RNA Institute’s ThermoFisher Student Venture Fund program, an interdisciplinary drug-discovery business collaboration.
“It’s impressive to see this important new addition to our campus come to fruition,” says Jones of the new building, “especially in the way that it augments Durell Stone’s original vision of the Academic Podium and preserves the grand view of the Main Entry Plaza.” The University at Albany’s campus plan now includes a newly renovated entry plaza with fountains and green space, flanked by the School of Business building and new administration building housing the University’s Welcome Center. The resulting gateway allows arriving students, visitors, and strategic partners to easily orient themselves and reach the rest of the campus.
Through the new School of Business complex, a first-level “interior street” also leads to the campus through a network of walkways and pedestrian tunnels. “People can now access meetings, classes, and events quickly and comfortably, which is an especially advantageous feature on cold winter days,” says Perkins+Will’s Goodwin.
Once inside the School of Business facility, students and visitors are greeted by a Bloomberg terminal trading room and several entrepreneurial centers, expressed in a storefront style arrangement to encourage interaction. Above is an upper atrium, called the Living Room, which is visually and spatially connected to the soaring public entry. Classrooms, academic services, and faculty suites are located on the top two floors, while general classrooms and a café, which opens onto a sunken garden, occupy the lower floor.
Even the design and construction process for the new School of Business building exemplified collaboration and engagement. “Maintaining continuity of services for the campus was the key to success, including constant communications and coordination with University leaders,” says Mike Winters, project executive for the full-service construction manager and general contractor, Kirchhoff-Consigli. Working together with SUNY Albany, Kirchhoff-Consigli coordinated the occupancy of the building five months earlier than originally planned. Both Kirchhoff-Consigli and Perkins+Will have past experience with the SUNY system, and Kirchhoff is currently managing the 100,000-square-foot renovation of The University at Albany’s Mohawk Tower residence hall.
Recent campus developments, such as the sustainable and contextual new School of Business building, resonate with the original ideas behind Edward Durell Stone’s campus design, which was commissioned by then Governor Nelson Rockefeller to elevate public education to the level of elite private universities and other excellent state systems, such as in California.
Many characteristics of the new School of Business building’s design set the stage for positive social and environmental impact over the long-term. Notable among its sustainable features are the maximization of daylight – for occupant enjoyment as well as to reduce electric lighting needs – and the use of specially designed precast panels, clerestory skylights, and an automated daylight-responsive lighting control system. Triple-glazed insulated glass and a low-velocity ventilation system also help reduce energy needs, which can be monitored by all occupants at a real-time “efficiency information center” in the building’s lobby.
Siegel expects that the business school, now ranked 86th in the nation, will be able to move up into the top 50 within five years. Jones agrees: “With the new building, we have the ability to achieve that goal.”
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