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  • New Business Facility Blends Instruction, Sustainability


    8/19/2008

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois business students will study this fall in a new, $60 million-plus building filled with high-tech classrooms, counseling and career services, and a state-of-the-art laboratory that simulates real-time market trading.

    But officials say there's also a lesson built into the earth-friendly design of the newly finished Business Instructional Facility, the first "green" building in the university's 141-year-old history.

    "We in the business school have always felt that what we do is not just about teaching different subjects," said Avijit Ghosh, vice president of technology and economic development and a former dean of the College of Business. "Those are very, very important, but we also want our students to graduate with a perspective about their role and responsibilities in society."

    The building, encompassing about 160,000 square feet, seeks to ease the mounting load on the environment, with energy-saving features that include solar panels to help power the building, roof plantings that provide insulation and reduce water runoff, and a unique, energy-efficient heating and cooling system.

    Combined, the measures could trim energy use by nearly 50 percent, officials estimate, cutting utility costs by up to $300,000 a year compared with traditional classroom buildings on the Urbana campus.

    The building also will join just a select few in Illinois certified through LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a U.S. Green Building Council rating system that promotes sustainable development. A gold or even platinum rating – the highest on the council's four-tiered scale – is expected when the project is certified later this year.

    "We're creating a facility that is both a LEED building in the green sense and also a leader in providing the dynamic environment that is critical to a modern business education," said Chancellor Richard Herman. "The Business Instructional Facility will be environmentally friendly and student friendly."

    The new facility was built with students in mind, said interim dean Larry DeBrock.

    "It seems like a cliché because it's in the name, but this is an instructional facility," he said. "There's a lot of room in there for students to grow intellectually and there's a lot of room for student interactions. It's going to be a great place for graduates and undergraduates to essentially call home."

    Designed by Cesar Pelli, a U. of I. graduate who was named one of the nation's 10 most influential living architects by the American Institute of Architects, the building was funded through borrowing and gifts from alumni, corporate partners and other donors. No state money was used for construction.

    "I think we have a state-of-the-art facility that makes the campus proud as well as our alumni and friends, the people who put a lot of their hard-earned cash into that building," DeBrock said.

    The four-story building features 18 classrooms that are wired for multiple feeds, from PowerPoint presentations to videoconferences. Cameras will record lectures for students who miss class or just want to review the day's material.

    A 300-seat auditorium will host guest speakers and other events. Students who want to work on their own or in groups can use an airy first-floor pavilion or study rooms and lounges that are scattered throughout the building.

    "What we find today is that students spend a lot of time working in small groups, especially in business schools where there are a lot of team-oriented projects," Ghosh said. "This is a building where we have tried to mesh the physical architecture with intellectual needs."

    The new building also will house offices that serve students' academic and career needs, while the dean and other administrative offices will remain across the street in Wohlers Hall, the hub of the business college for more than four decades.

    "This new building is completely student-centric," said Tracy McCabe, assistant dean for external and alumni affairs. "When you walk into most business school buildings, you get a real sense of administration. The reality of this building is you will have a sense this is a student space, first and foremost."

    Ghosh says the new building will ultimately become a recruiting tool for the college, home of the nation's 12th ranked undergraduate business program and 38th ranked graduate program in the latest U.S.News & World Report rankings.

    "This is the type of signal that smart students and faculty want to see," DeBrock said of the building. "Right now, we have the best game in town."

    Still, officials say, the heart of the college's success still rests with curriculum and its ongoing push to produce skilled graduates with deeply rooted professional and ethical standards.

    "Our reputation is not built on our building alone," McCabe said. "It's built on a philosophy of producing highly qualified graduates who do the right thing. It's a function of how we teach, not where we teach."

    New Business Instructional Facility At A Glance:

    A look at the new Business Instructional Facility, which will become the first "green" building on the University of Illinois campus when it opens for classes August 25, 2008:

    Cost: More than $60 million, funded through borrowing and gifts from alumni, corporate partners and other donors. No state money was used for construction.

    Size: Four stories, with more than 160,000 square feet of usable space. The U-shaped structure includes 18 state-of-the-art classrooms, student lounges and meeting rooms, a 300-seat auditorium, a laboratory that simulates market trading, and student-focused academic, counseling and career offices.

    Location: The southwest corner of Sixth and Gregory streets, across from Wohlers Hall in Champaign. Wohlers, built in 1967, will continue to house the College of Business's administrative offices as well as classrooms and faculty offices.

    Architect: Cesar Pelli, a U. of I. graduate who was named one of the nation's 10 most influential living architects by the American Institute of Architects in 1995.

    Opening: Classes begin Aug. 25 with the start of the fall semester. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Oct. 17.

    "Green" status: The first building on the 141-year-old campus that will be certified through LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a U.S. Green Building Council rating system that promotes sustainable development. A gold or perhaps even platinum rating – the highest on the council's four-tiered scale – is expected when the project is certified later this year.

    Energy savings: Officials estimate the new instructional facility could consume nearly 50 percent less energy than a traditional classroom building of its size. If those projections hold, officials say energy savings could amount to as much as $300,000 annually.

    "Green" features: Roof-mounted solar panels that will help power the building; photo sensors to trim electricity use; a displacement air system that uses gravity and natural air currents to heat and cool the building more efficiently than traditional forced-air systems; and drought-resistant roof plantings that will insulate the building and reduce water runoff.

    Related:

    Website: Business Instructional Facility

    Podcast: Green Roof on New Business Instructional Facility

    Press Mentions:

    Green Building News - The Chronicle of Higher Education

    New business facility may be most sustainable on campus - The Daily Illini

    Additional Information:

    Please contact Barlow LeVold by phone at (217) 244-8146 or by email at jbl@illinois.edu for more information regarding the new Business Instructional Facility.

    (Story courtesy of University of Illinois News Bureau)

    UIUC College of Business Department of Accountancy