According to the National Education Association, collaborative learning not only helps students develop higher-level thinking skills, but bolsters their confidence and self-esteem. Collaboration was a key factor in the design of the new building for UAB’s Collat School of Business.
Both the Collat School of Business and Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are housed in the new multipurpose learning space, which forms a dramatic gateway at the western edge of UAB’s campus and anchors the corner of Birmingham’s University Boulevard and 13th Street South.
Birmingham-based Williams Blackstock Architects and the New York City firm of groundbreaking architect Robert A.M. Stern served as the architects of record on the $37.5 million project, which was planned with input from students and community business leaders.
The 108,000-square-foot building is designed around a central-commons “living room” that promotes student and faculty interaction, and fronts the primary boulevard through campus with glass and an exterior patio. Educational spaces and classrooms surround the “living room” so students and faculty can see and be seen, thereby increasing collaboration through visibility and transparency, explains Williams Blackstock Principal Matt Foley.
The Commons provides the nucleus of the building’s parti – the organizing thought or decision behind the design – and creates a hub for faculty and student activity. The three-story space fronts University Boulevard providing daylight and views to and from campus as well as the adjoining interior classroom spaces.
Breakout rooms, an innovation lab and classrooms designed for team-based learning are housed in the new building. Along with a high-tech finance lab, sales role-playing rooms, a three-story atrium, auditorium, career center and quiet study spaces.
A café and outdoor dining terrace at ground level provide an ideal spot to relax between classes. Classroom entrances and key meeting spaces open onto and overlook the living room.
The innovation lab, finance lab and dean’s board room are spaces within the building critical to the mission of the Collat School of Business. An expansive storefront and curtainwall put these spaces on display inside and outside the building.
Classrooms, meeting spaces and offices offer views of the campus and skyline, which reinforces the design concept that encourages collaborative engagement between business education and the greater business community.
A sculptural grand stair serves as a connective tissue between all floor levels by providing vertical walkability and an elegant central landmark. The stair is meant to overshadow the elevator to encourage navigating the building on foot. This creates a distinct and identifiable experience specific to this new building.
The exterior features a combination of traditional building materials and contemporary building elements. A spacious landscaped courtyard on the building’s east side leads students to the main entrance of the Collat School of Business, while the main entrance to the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is on the northern side of the building.
Image 1- The exterior features both traditional and contemporary building elements. The four-story multipurpose learning space includes classrooms designed for team-based learning, lecture halls, faculty and student breakout rooms and other amenities. It also houses the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Image 2- Birmingham-based Williams Blackstock Architects and the New York City firm of groundbreaking architect Robert A.M. Stern served as the architects of record on the $37.5 million project, which was planned with input from students and community business leaders.
Image 3- The 108,000-square-foot building is designed around a central-commons “living room” that promotes student and faculty interaction and fronts the primary boulevard through campus with glass and an exterior patio.
*Article By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Williams Blackstock Architects