A state-of-the art collegiate learning center in form and function, the new Darla Moore School of Business was presented to reporters Wednesday as the latest architectural jewel on the sprawling University of South Carolina campus in Columbia.
The 252,000 square-foot six-level building, next to the Carolina Coliseum, maximizes natural light throughout and each level shades the one below it. The classrooms features the latest in learning and communication technologies.
This is the first year for the business school’s new location on the western edge of campus. Previously, the school had been located in the Close-Hipp building along Pendleton and Barnwell streets. The U.S. Department of Justice plans to begin leasing that space now that students have moved out.
Peter Brews, who became dean of the business school in mid-January, says he arrived at USC at a great time. The South Africa native said the best way to describe the new building may have been coined by the students with their unique use of the English language.
“Last Thursday when they first arrived here… apparently the phrase that was being used, which I did not know but I have now learned is ‘this is sick!’ he said. “Which I gather is a positive thing. They’re very excited about it and the faculty are too. It is a phenomenal building.”
Brews called the building a game-changer that will enhance teaching methods, while attracting talented faculty and young minds anywhere in the world that aspire to study business and finance.
Andrea Lamberti, a partner with Rafael Vinoly Architects, said lead designer Rafael Vinoly’s fundamental idea was to create something that was natural and organic. She said the architect took his inspiration from the Palmetto tree, creating a building that seemed natural coming right out of the ground.
“So many aspects of the building relate to that idea,” she said. “From all the colors of all the exterior finishes that you see, from the brown metal panel on the fourth floor and the green that you see on the executive education wing. Those are all derived from an idea relating to the state tree.”
The building includes an open-air courtyard called the “Palmetto Court” — which features a number of Palmetto trees and a free-standin pavilion for lectures and special events.
The building also features classrooms of various sizes that can be reconfigured for group discussions and projects. Dan Ostergaard , managing director of the Master in International Business said the new classrooms will spawn a variety of new teaching methods.
“The fact that we can write on boards all the way around the room, move all the tables around, it’s very easy to do,” he said. “Also, the different types of screens and multi-media, is very fascinating. Everybody has access to the internet, every seat has an outlet to plug in a computer, the imagination is let loose and its a whole new type of teaching that will be coming out of here.”
Rochester, New York junior Megan Krystofik said fellow students and the faculty are very excited about their new place to work and study.
“We have lots of natural sunlight coming in and it’s very bright and exciting to be here. The professors can use state-of-the-art technology to enhance our in class experience and we can use that to collaborate more with our peers for group projects, and if we skype across the globe with a class we’re working with over there, we can do that.”
The building also features a visitor’s center, a trading room with stock market ticker boards, and a cafe.