Haas School of Business expansion includes construction of new academic building

Sierra Brown/Staff

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The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business confirmed that its multimillion-dollar expansion involves the construction of a new student-centered building, which is set to finish next year.

Composed entirely of classrooms and study space, the North Academic Building is designed to help “transform the student experience” by adapting to “new forms of educational technology and learning,” school officials said. The six-story structure, which spans nearly 80,000 square feet, is scheduled to complete in fall of 2016 and costs about $60 million.

“The goal of the new facility is to create the best, most up to date learning experience for our students,” said Rich Lyons, dean of the Haas School, in a press release. “It’s all about them.”

Classrooms in the new building, which together supply an additional 868 classroom seats to the school’s current facilities, include eight tiered lecture rooms, four flat, flexible-use rooms and 28 team-based study rooms — all in an attempt to provide more collaborative space for business students. The building will have no administrative offices.

Michelle McClellan, assistant dean of development and alumni relations for the business school, said the business school is currently constrained both by the small, tight classrooms that have existed since the school’s opening in 1995 and the high volume of students enrolled in programs.

In 1995, at the time of the school’s opening, 1,300 students were enrolled. Twenty years later, there are about 2,200 students enrolled, with more programs offered than before. McClellan said the project provides the school an opportunity to grow and expand, though there is no definite plan to increase enrollment with the new building.

“The reality is that we’ve grown as a school, tremendously, but just as important is that the types of classrooms built 20 years ago are not the types we need now for business education,” McClellan said. “In a tiered classroom, everything is fixed — learning doesn’t happen in the same way it once did.”

The eight larger lecture rooms have the option of removing their tiered seating, which would allow for new classroom designs in the school’s future. To accommodate the evolving program and its curriculum, the majority of the classrooms will include movable tables and even movable walls, allowing students to adjust their space like a design studio, McClellan said.

To accompany the classrooms, the building will also include a 3,000-square-foot cafe with outdoor seating under giant redwoods and a 300-person event space that overlooks campus and the San Francisco Bay.

The project, which costs approximately $60 million, was funded exclusively by alumni and friends of the Haas school. The Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, along with Simpson Manufacturing Co. founder Barclay Simpson and former senior vice president and director of Capital Research and Management Co. Robert G. O’Donnell, contributed significantly in funding the project, officials said.

The North Academic Building is the first newly constructed addition to the Haas school. Ned Spieker, managing partner of private real estate firm Spieker Partners, helped develop the vision for the building.

“When the Haas campus first opened, it was an inflection point in the school’s history — enabling the business school to expand and develop community between students and alumni,” McClellan said. “And we view this new project in the same way: It creates the same opportunities as a new inflection point for the school to boost its financial strength and foster community.”

Bo Kovitz is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @beau_etc.