Kent State College of Business

Kent State University College of Business Administration

Kent, Ohio
Planned for Organic Engagement

Wedged between a main downtown through-way, adjacent neighborhoods, and the Campus Green, a new, globally connected school of business will create transparency within the student community, enhance connectivity to the neighborhood and downtown, and establish a new iconic campus gateway.

Our team designed the new College of Business Administration as an iconic town-to-gown connector that engages students, faculty, and visitors from two primary entrances, and with a creative design focused on transparency.

The building is designed to encourage individualized student educational journeys to encourage organic engagement, collaboration, and relationship building. The wide-variety of multi-purpose building spaces like “Big Main,” “Student Success Center,” “Business Boulevard,” and “Global Forum” offer students enhanced connections between disciplines, faculty, the neighborhood, the business community, and the international scene.

New Campus Gateway
Main Street and Midway Drive
Design Excellence

Wrapped in a warm hue of local brick and clear glass, the new four-story structure celebrates Kent’s campus topography by situating entries on two levels. Visitors, students and staff ascend from town to gown through the multi-level “Big Main” atrium. “Big Main” is conceived as a dynamic business education marketplace that feeds flexible learning, lab and research environments on all levels encouraging robust business community and academic interaction driving each student’s personal growth.

Kent State University College of Business
“Big Main” Atrium
Multi-storied gathering area acts as a campus entry and central meeting location.
Experiential Design
Students are First by Design

This unique education building design will meet the needs of a diverse student body while empowering and engaging them in a broadly supported, but eminently self-directed learning experience. Robust vertical and horizontal movement, including the east/west “Business Boulevard,” and the four-level “Big Main” atrium will eliminate barriers to interaction maximizing the freedom of personal choice for each student. Inclusive and engaging learning environments will help students thrive and graduate as informed citizens committed to a life of impact.

Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable.

This building design follows active design principals for occupant health while reducing water and energy use to support long-term campus and community health. Designed for high performance, health, and well-being, our integrative team is fusing the pursuit of LEED NC Gold certification and Fitwel certification with RELi principles and WELL Building guidelines. Plans also include the restoration of self-sustaining biodiverse landscape plantings and a pollinator habitat.

Collaborative Stairway
Allows for increased teaming opportunities in the center of Big Main.
Global Forum
400-seat, glazed in-the-round auditorium that hangs out above the ground at the center of campus facing the green.
What Makes it Cool
Transformational new college of business focused on community, transparency, flexibility, and resilience. P4 design/build delivery.
“The innovative design presented by the [design] team appropriately reflects the success and pride of the college and its alumni, by creating an environment that emphasizes forward-thinking, educational best practices to prepare students for business careers of the future.”

Deborah F. Spake, PhD, Dean of College of Business Administration, Kent State University

The Power of Intersections

Early on the planning and design process, the College of Business Administration (COBA) fully embraced the fundamental changes happening in business education. The melding of business education and corporate workplaces required a shift in thinking from traditional spaces and environments typical of most business education facilities. COBA was determined to have their facilities support the fundamentals within this new business education process and highlight the activities of LEARN, WORK and ENGAGE throughout their space. Together with the design team, they discovered the power of transformational moments that occur when these activities and spaces begin to overlap, creating new synergies and opportunities for learning, engagement, and innovation.

Kent State College of Business Administration Sketch
Campus Entry
Terrace Drive
Public-Private Partnership with Philanthropy (P4)

To help make their dream for a new iconic building a reality, Kent State University’s COBA desired to use philanthropy as a critical component to the overall financial success of the project. During the initial planning stage, we leveraged our understanding of the shift in business education facilities and programs to create philanthropic and branding ideas that became key elements within the conceptual design. These added value elements became known as: Big Main, Business Boulevard, Global Forum, Student Success Center, Collaboratium Stairway, Center of Centers, and Community and Campus Welcome Courts; and became key funding opportunities in support of their innovative P4 process.

Project Team

Jeff Ziebarth
Jeff Ziebarth
John Slack
Douglas Pierce