Windy conditions, a tornado warning and brief light rain Friday afternoon didn’t prevent hundreds of people from turning out for the dedication ceremony of Oklahoma State University’s new business building.
The courtyard of the four-story, $72 million crescent-shaped brick building that blends beautifully into the campus landscape and offers sweeping views was packed with donors, dignitaries, faculty, staff and students, many who were anxious to tour the technologically advanced facility.
“This is a very exciting day and I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen,” President Burns Hargis said. “We wouldn’t be here without the 800 donors to this building. Over half the cost of this building, $36 million, were contributed by our alumni and friends. Facilities, I often say, don’t transform things, people do but talented people, passionate people, want facilities that will maximize their ability and their impact. I think we have that in this building. This building will also change the way we teach, the way we learn and it will be an incredible recruiting tool.”
Spears Dean Ken Eastman said that while walking around the building the first few days after it opened for classes in January, he kept hearing two things from students.
“Wow, this is awesome,” and “I can’t believe this is for us.”
The 147,450-square-foot facility is nearly 50 percent larger than the previous business building, which is more than 50 years old.
And it is the first time in more than 20 years all business students, faculty and staff are in the same building, according to Eastman, who said they were previously spread over six buildings.
“It is an honor to be part of this monumental project,” said Craig Abbott, project director for Manhattan Construction, which oversaw the construction project. “The success of a project of this magnitude lies squarely on the dedication, sacrifice and execution of the people responsible for the design and construction. Almost 300,000 man hours went into that effort.”
The building was designed by architect Rand Elliott, an OSU School of Architecture graduate, who said the building was designed to last 100 years.
He talked with several business students about what they would like to see in a new facility.
“Make it the coolest place on campus and a place we would like to hang out in,” Elliott remembers them saying.
The facility has 13 classrooms, 16 team/breakout rooms, nine conference rooms, four labs, seven academic department offices, a graduate student lounge, a student organization room, a coffee and snack shop, along with more than 150 offices.
The classrooms are set up so desks and chairs can be moved around freely.
“It is important to have modern classrooms,” Eastman said previously. “To teach interactively, you need a more interactive room.”
The basement, first and second floors are student focused with most of the offices and faculty areas on the third and fourth floors.
The basement houses most of the classrooms. This level has a soaring ceiling height of 18 feet and numerous glazed skylights that allow natural light to filter in.
The first floor features an area for the stock exchange ticker next to a coffee shop.
The upper floors have windows above the doorways to help bring natural light into the building’s interior.
Friends Moriah Ray, a junior who is studying Communications Sciences and Disorders, and Sophomore Rebel Connell, who is undecided, explored the building for the first time Friday.
“I really like the curved design,” Connell said. “If feels really open.”
“It feels modern and sleek,” Ray added.
Sophomore Will Petty, a Management Information Systems major, was stationed at the Genius Bar as people toured the building.
“The Genius Bar is a place business students can go to get student-to-student feedback on business ideas they have,” Petty said.
Sophomore Laila Almohsen, a business management international student from Saudi Arabia, said she is enjoying the new space.
“It is so pretty,” she said. “I love the design with all the natural light.”
Kyle Eastham, who has taught in the business school the past five years and had his office downtown, said having all the staff together has been great because it allows them to collaborate much easier, which benefits students.
“The building has the latest and greatest in technology and furniture,” Eastham said.
This spring semester, Dean Eastman said 96 faculty have taught 168 different classes to 3,699 students.
Senior Tom Occhipinti, president of the Business Student Council and emcee of the dedication ceremony said, “This building has without a doubt raised the bar for Spears business and students are extremely blessed to be able to learn in such a wonderful environment.”