With programs consistently among the top ranked in the United States and alumni that regularly go on to leadership in Fortune 500 companies, Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business wanted a building that communicated it is educating leaders for the twenty-first century. It also wanted a place that would build community among students beyond classroom time. The Paul L. Foster Campus creates just that environment—reflective of the twenty-first-century workplace while honoring Baylor’s rich heritage, values, and traditions.
Young entrepreneurs find themselves at a personal and cultural crossroads during their college careers. As they move into the wider world, they have to balance between the influences of their upbringing and grand ambitions. For generations Baylor University’s deep religious and cultural heritage has given unique shape to students’ formative campus experience. At its core is the belief that values can be a springboard for progress.
Campus architecture tells a similar story. Baylor’s neo-Georgian structures bear witness to the school’s history. Now, influenced by their new campus master plan—also designed by Overland Partners—the business school was ready to build for their future alongside their past. As the university as a whole gains prominence on the national stage, the business school wanted to send the clear message to current and prospective students, as well as faculty, that their rich tradition feeds world-class innovation.
Overland envisioned a modern building core composed of glass and wood with an exterior that features red brick and a stone base reflective of the traditional historical campus architecture. However these elements are reinterpreted in a contemporary way. Though the building is larger than the historical campus buildings, its scale is broken down by punctuating the facades with glass. This give the impression of a glass building with brick hung from it almost like paintings—a metaphor for innovation pushing through tradition, from the inside outward. “The building is moving business schools in the same direction that we see happening in the business world,” said Rick Archer, Principal in Charge.
Designed with the twenty-first-century workspace in mind the building is organized around a central atrium which functions like a town center, connecting multiple programming components like faculty offices, classrooms, and conference rooms. Collaboration and communication translate to more flexibility, where conference rooms and tables can become workbenches and open-format desk space. While each department has its own identity, manifested in a lobby and reception area, behind the scenes they share space and, inevitably, ideas. The flow of students across the space pollinates the departments with fresh research and information to keep them from stagnating in their own silos. Likewise, an auditorium and conference center connected to the atrium are not only a resource for campus development but a valuable touchpoint between students and alumni.
While some faculty members were initially hesitant about the glass walls of their offices, the school’s advisory board was enthusiastic. The idea of isolated, inaccessible leadership was anathema to their high-profile workplaces where everyone was expected to contribute to problem solving and idea sharing. The faculty was won over by their placement in the design. To provide ample windows for all three hundred offices, they had to occupy the perimeter space throughout the building. A mix of open space, instructional facilities, and offices is found on every floor, creating the opportunity for a diversity of interactions and increasing students’ access to their professors.
But another reality of the twenty-first-century workplace is that daylight is not always advantageous. Overland had to find a way to moderate the daylight serving the atrium at the core so that screens on phones, laptops, and tablets would be visible. The solution, a series of apertures in the roof, minimized cost and made the atrium an ideal work space in terms of both comfort and function.
Cutting-edge technology is integrated throughout the building, creating a learning space that supports new ways of teaching, learning, and collaboration. But the project’s greatest success is in its effectiveness at building community—a foundational element of the school’s values and mission—by creating a place that students want to spend time. Students even beyond the business school occupy the building nearly all hours of the day. The comfort and functionality of the space draws students into a place where educational resources are all around them. Ideas simmer and steep in a space students see as their own, and achievement inevitably follows. As one Baylor student reported, “I feel like I can do anything here.”