New GSB building to open in 2004 draws mixed reactions

By Tim Miller

Students enrolling at the Gradaute School of Buissness (GSB) next year will be the first class to take advantage of a new building on 58th Street and South Woodlawn Avenue, expected to open in September of 2004.

The $125-million complex overlooking the Robie House will be one of them most innovative, modern, and technologically advanced buildings on campus, according to architects. The complex will be 60 percent larger than the school’s current facilities and will include 18 classrooms for M.B.A. and Ph.D. students, 34 group study rooms, and 36 interview rooms where corporate recruiters will meet with students. In addition to 167 faculty offices, there will be a student lounge and food service area, three outdoor terraces, and a winter garden atrium 83 feet tall containing 37,500 square feet of glass.

“The faculty of our Graduate School of Business is simply unsurpassed, and our students are second to none,” said Don Randel, University president. “This new building will help those faculty and students work more closely than ever before, creating the kinds of collaborations where the best learning is done, and the best ideas are developed,” he said.

The GSB has campuses in Europe, Asia, and downtown Chicago, but “this new facility brings the vitality of discovery and collaboration together in a building that, when completed, will allow us to lay claim to having the best set of dedicated campuses of any business school in the world,” said Edward A. Snyder, dean of the GSB.

After an intense process of selecting the architect, the GSB chose Rafael Viñoly, an internationally recognized firm which designed the Toyko International Forum, the Philadelphia Regional Performing Arts Center, and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. “Rafael Viñoly did an excellent job of designing our new complex to compliment the Prairie-style architecture of Robie House and the Gothic style of Rockefeller Chapel,” Snyder said.

Faculty members and students have varied opinions on the new complex. Some feel that the building will meet the growing change in student-faculty interaction.

“Today, students and faculty collaborate,” said Ann McGill, a professor of general management, marketing and behavioral science in the GSB. “They eat here, they socialize here, and they have meetings here,” she said. “The result is that we need more group meeting places, social areas, quiet study areas, and space for professional clubs to hold events. Our new complex will facilitate spontaneous ideas and hallway chats, and that is where many of the best ideas come from,” McGill said

Some students feel that the new building will take away from the school’s strong qualities. “Frankly, I prefer GSB’s current location—Stuart, Rosenwald, and Walker halls. I joined the University of Chicago for tradition and character. There is a no-nonsense, nothing-fancy, show-me-the-numbers solidness to the GSB, and it is well embodied by Stuart, Rosenwald, and Walker. Professors still write with chalk on blackboard long complicated equations, and students sit on the floor if necessary. Our present location has an atmosphere that is very conducive to learning,” said Bhooshan Wabgaonkar, a third-year in the GSB.

When the new facility is completed, other schools and departments of the

University of Chicago will use the four buildings now occupied by the GSB. The new complex will bring a drastic change to one of the oldest and largest business schools in the world.