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Sense of Place

Bloch Executive Hall at University of Missouri-Kansas City

Three-story, 58,000-square-foot Bloch Hall designed for active learning
University Business, December 2013
With its amphitheater and café, the atrium area of Bloch Executive Hall is a popular informal meeting area. It was also the scene of a dinner celebration with hundreds of guests.
With its amphitheater and café, the atrium area of Bloch Executive Hall is a popular informal meeting area. It was also the scene of a dinner celebration with hundreds of guests.

Sitting adjacent to UMKC’s historic School of Management building, and now complementing it, is the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Everything about the three-story, 58,000-square-foot Bloch Hall was designed for active learning. Students studying entrepreneurship and in graduate and executive programs have the most use of the facility, which architect Steve McDowell of BNIM says is “more like a design studio than a business school learning environment.” Put another way, “the D school is the new B school,” says McDowell, a principal at the firm.


McDowell’s description mirrors the thinking of Dean Teng-Kee Tan, who joined the institution in 2009. Tan’s philosophy involves breaking traditional molds of business education, and his expertise is in technology innovation and product development.

The original building was “designed for a pedagogical model that doesn’t include many of the components necessary to nurture entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers,” says Acting Dean David Donnelly.

“It was designed for lectures, case discussions, and other methods that did not anticipate or include advances in instructional technology or the needs of successful innovators.” With today’s enrollment 70 percent higher than in 2007, the need for more space drove plans for a new facility.

Tan’s passion for experiential learning led its design.


Stanford’s for students studying design was one of the few facilities the UMKC team could find as a model. They expanded on some ideas and applied them to business education, McDowell says. Take the three active learning classrooms, each set up for eight groups of eight, for example.

“Students learn from students as well as from professors. They learn by doing,” he says.

The Innovation Lab offers a one-stop-shop for creating and testing ideas, simulating the customer experience, and other experimentation. “Venture accelerator” rooms, McDowell says, allow small groups to nurture ideas behind closed doors.

Students learn through the study of real-time market data in the Finance Lab. And the Behavioral Research Lab is equipped for research and experiments on consumer behavior.

“The first impression when you walk into the building is what we call the path of innovation,” McDowell says. “You see the amphitheater, the curved walls, the skylights. It’s just a very powerful experience.”

The building, on target for LEED Gold status, includes an underfloor displacement system that saves energy by just cooling the lower part of the room.

COMPLETED: August 2013

COST: $32 million

PROJECT TEAM: BNIM (Kansas City), architect; Moore Ruble Yudell (Santa Monica, Calif.), associate architect; JE Dunn Construction (Kansas City)

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