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University of Chicago to Open $125 Million Business School Building


The Hyde Park Center of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business is scheduled to open Thursday, September 23 with the start of the autumn quarter.

The 415,000 square foot building at 5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly in response to the latest innovations in teaching methods and student collaboration. The facility, which was completed at a cost of $125 million, includes 12 classrooms, 2 seminar rooms, 31 group study rooms and 42 interview rooms where corporate recruiters meet with MBA students and where prospective students are interviewed for admission.

A six-story glass atrium winter garden rises through the center of the building topped by curved steel beams that form Gothic arches, a signature of the University of Chicago's architecture.

The facility contains seven floors. It replaces five buildings the business school occupied on the University's main campus. Those buildings will be used by other schools and departments of the University.

The Chicago GSB Hyde Park Center will accommodate 1,100 full-time MBA students, 110 PhD students, 200 staff members and 167 faculty offices.

"This building reflects important changes that have taken place in business education recently, many of which were developed at Chicago GSB," said Edward A. Snyder, dean. The facility also helps create a "collaborative environment among students and faculty that enhances the way business professors now teach and students now learn," Snyder said.

The new center is a cornerstone of the business school's $250 million capital campaign, part of the $2 billion Chicago Initiative fundraising campaign of the University of Chicago. The lead gift to the building was $25 million from Dennis Keller, chairman of DeVry, Inc. and a 1968 graduate of Chicago GSB.

Other major donors include Andrew Alper, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and a 1981 Chicago GSB graduate; David Booth, founder, co-chairman, chief executive, and chief investment officer of Dimensional Fund Advisors Inc. and a 1971 graduate of Chicago GSB; and Robert Rothman, chairman and chief executive of Black Diamond Group, Inc., and a 1977 Chicago GSB graduate.

"With our renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities we are poised to take the next step in our effort to become the best business school in the world on every dimension," Snyder said.

The new building is located just south of Frank Lloyd Wright's Frederick C. Robie House and east of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, both of which are architecturally significant buildings. The Hyde Park Center was designed to visually complement both buildings by including cantilevered floors and horizontal limestone on the façade to reflect the Prairie-style of Robie House, while the Gothic arches of the winter garden reflect a key design element of Rockefeller Chapel.

"It was clear that architectural considerations were as important as the ingenuity it would take to deal with a very difficult set of requirements," said Viñoly, whose other recent projects include the Tokyo International Forum, Philadelphia Regional Performing Arts Center and Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

"The Chicago GSB building has turned out better than I expected in many ways," Viñoly said. "The University and the business school made the project a real priority that wasn't compromised in moments of fighting over budgets or other concerns."

Other features of the building include three outdoor terraces, a 150-seat dining area and a student study area with a limestone fireplace, wood paneling and a wood ceiling. A separate student lounge contains casual seating areas and pool tables.

"The intensity of our MBA program often requires students to be in the building for eight to ten hours each day attending classes and working in study groups," Snyder said, adding "a student lounge with space to relax is critical to allow students to decompress and connect informally with each other." The design of the building also enables more informal communication between students and faculty.

The way business school students and faculty interact with each other has changed since the 1980s, Snyder said, making its previous buildings not suited for today's learning environment. "There is much more collaboration among faculty and students now," said Stacey Kole, deputy dean for the full-time MBA program. "They have meetings here, they socialize here, they eat here," she said. "The new building contains plenty of space for group meetings, for professional clubs to hold events, and quiet study areas."

The classrooms feature the latest technology including three projectors to display multiple images, power and data outlets at each seat, and nine writing surfaces for faculty to use, combined in a comfortable environment with indirect lighting, wooden desks, fabric wall panels and ergonomic seating. The entire building has wireless Internet access.

Since the Chicago GSB faculty is interdisciplinary, the decision was made to mix faculty offices so a finance professor might be next to a marketing professor who is next to an accounting professor. Open staircases on faculty floors make it easy for faculty members to reach each other.

In addition to its main location in Hyde Park, the business school has a downtown facility, the Gleacher Center at 450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive, and campuses in Singapore and Barcelona.

"This new building, when combined with our three other facilities, allows us to lay claim to having the best set of dedicated campuses of any business school in the world," said Snyder.

John Huizinga, a professor of economics and former deputy dean of Chicago GSB, had lead responsibility for construction of the facility, which remained on schedule and on budget since the planning began in 1999. Ground was broken in May 2002. The general contractor was Turner Construction Company.

The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business is one of the oldest and largest business schools in the world. It offers full-time and part-time MBA programs, a PhD program, and open enrollment executive education.