Ross School of Business

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI, USA University of Michigan, Ross School of Business Anthony Blackett, Educational Programmer Education, Interiors 280,000 ft2 / 26,000 m2 Silver Society of American Registered Architects Awards Design Award of Honor (2009), Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture & Design International Architecture Award (2007)

In order to maintain its stature as one of the premier business school in the nation, the Stephen M. Ross School at the University of Michigan commissioned a master plan study to assess existing building capabilities and to determine whether the building should be renovated and rehabilitated or demolished and reconstructed. Challenges facing the program included providing a variety of instructional and meeting spaces to support the school’s action-based curriculum, and the need to create a physical center of gravity for the school’s intellectual and social life that would allow for informal as well as formal interaction between students, faculty, the university and the surrounding community.

Essential to the success of the design of the new building was relating the typical tiered classroom to group study spaces. To do so, the design team developed a model for early site planning studies to address the pedagogical needs of the school, which focused on assessing the capacity of existing buildings to accommodate new teaching spaces. The results showed that to meet the school’s program requirements, certain portions of existing buildings would need to be demolished. Complicating the matter further was the school’s desire to remain in its current location on the university’s central campus. As such, demolition and new construction had to be coordinated with relocation strategies that integrated Ross School faculty and students within existing buildings.

Equally important was a sense of local identity, both for the building on the university campus and for distinct groups within the school. Respect for the language and history of nearby buildings on campus had to be balanced with the goal of projecting a forward-looking image for the school. At the same time, an internal arrangement of the building would need to create sense of community for the Ross School while serving the specific needs of its varied user groups.

The new building meets these challenges set by the Ross School with an organization of elements around a central winter garden which opens directly to the street, providing a distinctive presence and a new “front door” for the school on the University of Michigan campus. Circulation patterns are refined to link both existing and new building components into this new heart of the business school campus. An auditorium, tiered and flat classrooms and group study spaces—all equipped with state-of-the-art technology—open directly onto the winter garden, taking advantage of central student lounge areas and café seating. Faculty offices are organized in neighborhoods which look down on the winter garden from above its glass skylight. The building culminates at the top with a collection of major events and presentation spaces that look back over the university campus, taking advantage of spectacular views of surrounding buildings and campus open spaces.

The building, which has achieved LEED Silver certification, includes numerous sustainable design features. The design includes three green roofs with drip irrigation, underfloor air system, energy efficient lighting design, low consumption plumbing fixtures and on-site water retention/reuse, and the use of recycled content and locally manufactured construction materials to the maximum extent possible.

Image 1 / 10 | © Barbara Karant