A 20,000-SQUARE-FOOT EXPANSION more than doubles the size of the business school at American University (D.C.)?and is the first building project on campus funded entirely by donations.
? FUNCTION: Faculty offices, classrooms, labs, a business school career center, and student meeting places
? CHALLENGES: Not long after the 1999 renovation of a 1960s-era former law school building, plans began to take shape for an expansion. Initial funds came from Robert Kogod. A former AU trustee, in 2003 he had provided the school’s naming gift. Dean Richard M. Durand came on board in 2005 in part to help raise funds for the project. The original building was mainly faculty offices, and classes were scattered throughout half a dozen buildings, Durand says. It wasn’t an ideal situation for students or faculty.
Next door, a theater-in-the-round building?also built in the 1960s and with its concrete block exterior visible from the main campus entrance?lay empty. Plans called for using that space and connecting it to the Kogod building, about 60 feet away, says in-house architect Virginia Richardson. Using an existing building’s footprint is an environmentally friendly decision, but it comes with challenges. “We needed to add a floor, which required raising the roof,” she says. Also, the existing two floors didn’t align with the Kogod building.
Durand worked to help ensure the final design would meet expectations of “this new generation of business student.” This included adding a Financial Services and Information Technology Lab with a trading floor setting. A behavioral research lab was added for faculty and students to conduct studies on business behavior.
? SOLUTIONS: After about a month of prep work, the former theater building’s floor was lowered 30 inches, Richardson explains. Because of a slight height difference in another area, a ramp was designed to connect the original building and addition. Similar detailing was used on the exterior for a cohesive look. To enhance the view from the entrance to campus, a parking lot was replaced by green space. On one level of the new space are five classrooms. The former theater became two high-tech, two-tier lecture halls. A mobile videoconferencing unit can be used throughout the building.
The finishing touches inside will include fine art donated by Kogod. Thanks to new lounge spaces and a career services center, students are more likely than ever to be around to view that collection.
During final exams week, Durand noticed that students seemed to “own the building. I almost feel like I should ask permission to walk through.” He’s pleased to see students and faculty engaged together in learning and social activities. “That’s what I think a business school should be,” he says.
? COST: Approximately $14 million
? COMPLETED: April 2009
? PROJECT TEAM: Office of University Architect; Hartman-Cox Architects and general contractor Marion Construction (both in D.C.).