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May 07, 2016

University of Kansas Opens Newly Designed Business School Building

Ribbon Cutting on Capitol Federal Hall Marks Shift in Academic Design
CHICAGO — The new University of Kansas School of Business building marks a departure from the traditional design model – and, thus, the traditional approach to learning – focusing instead on innovation, serendipity and being “future ready.”
In a marked shift from traditional academic design, the interiors of the Gensler-designed Capitol Federal Hall in Lawrence, Kan., more closely resemble co-working and startup spaces than classrooms, student unions, libraries or laboratories. The design is intended to engage students by creating a culture of entrepreneurship, providing space for the collision of people and ideas.
“We didn’t work with the University to simply design a new business school building,” said David Broz, a principal and leader in Gensler’s Education Practice Area. “Together, we essentially started from scratch and incorporated faculty and staff, current and former students, and even recruiting companies into a design to address what’s next in business, and to reinforce KU’s motto: ‘Where Business Is Going.’”
Instead of stacking space traditionally – where students occupy lower floors and faculty members occupy the upper floors – the two groups are adjacent to each other in Capitol Federal Hall, a move encouraging more serendipitous interactions among “prepared minds.” Interior spaces are inspired by the startup mentality of tech incubators, intended to help occupants manufacture innovation through ideas and connections.
Gensler Principal and Design Director Brian Vitale said the design of the building, “is meant to take advantage of the unique site topography – the hills surrounding much of the campus” – mimicked inside using notions like Capitol Federal Hall’s “Social Steps,” and the canyon-esque central space of the student atrium.
Special care was taken to ensure the design realized an environment where all professionals feel comfortable and welcomed through the integration of key stakeholders. The University of Kansas is committed to embracing donors and mentor dependency; and Capitol Federal Hall is the embodiment of user-centered design.

Leah Ray
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