In a competition to design Kent State University's new College of Business Administration, four developer-designer teams vied for the chance to design the high-profile building. The first of its kind at KSU, the competition required a financial model in conjunction with the design, to fit within the university’s budget. The team of Hemingway Development, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Bialosky Cleveland, and Walsh Construction designed a modern and spacious building, buzzing with energy and glowing with warmth.
After being divided amongst multiple buildings for years, KSU's College of Business envisioned a space tailored to their curriculum, with flexible meeting spaces and classrooms to adapt to different classes and events. Technology has been integrated seamlessly through the building, connecting students to the global business world and to each other.
To address these requests, the team's design concept focused on the idea of alluvial plains. The team believed the College of Business Administration should be a nurturing place, like the water’s edge of an alluvial plain. Enriched by the ebbs and flows of sustenance along an ever-changing terrain, the building should accommodate and facilitate such variation over different periods of time.
This idea sparked a design with a central atrium, or "Business Pavilion," that could transform into multiple venues based on the needs of the college. All instructional spaces revolve around the Business Pavilion, residing either one level above or below, closely linking all students and disciplines. On the academic floors, strategically placed smart conference rooms, flexible classrooms, and offices enable the business school to cater to academic and professional needs.
When students or visitors walk into the light-flooded building, they are greeted by stock tickers wrapped around the entry, pulsing with real-time information. Students chatter over coffees in the cafe, work in groups at table clusters, or study solo in private cubes. In the evening, the local Kent community flocks to the building for public lectures, workshops, and conferences.
The design not only solved the challenges faced by the business school, it also established a new connection and visual point for the broader campus. The College faces the main street, connecting KSU to the world and presenting a bold first glance to newcomers. The exterior, clad in terracotta rain screen, features a multitude of great picture windows which harvests an abundance of natural light.
Designed to meet LEED Gold standards, the building utilized many sustainable features. For the interior, sustainably harvested rift-cut white oak adds warmth, high-performance operable windows increase natural ventilation, and 100% LED lighting decreases energy usage. The team also incorporated lush outdoor spaces, native landscaping, and bike facilities.
The design for KSU's College of Business Administration empowers students to perform at their best and establishes a point of connection to global business.