Business schools often encourage active exchanges betweenthe outside commercial world and the students and faculty within. The businessschools we’ve constructed—including two since AUB invited us (and four otherfirms) to its international competition—started with an exploration of thisfundamental value. We considered how architecture could open a school to aregion’s business community and foster connections with executives,entrepreneurs, companies. We also considered how architecture could convey thestandards of excellence and energetic pace consistent with today’s workplaces.
AUB had set aside a hillside site above the Corniche withbreathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Ourdesign makes two important gestures. We sited the business school at the edgeof the lower campus so it would sit prominently on the Corniche and create ahigh-profile complex that is visible from downtown. Our design also makes aconscious nod to AUB’s landscape tradition by creating an expansive green,gardens and pedestrian paths that tie into the broader campus.
The space requirements for the new school were quitelarge, and our solution was to break the mass into two buildings, a sandstonebar and a glass tower, which connect via a planted bridge. This move creates adramatic portal, which frames views of the Mediterraneanand echoes a local leitmotif, in which many downtown streets offer sea vistas,creating beautiful perforations in the dense urban fabric. The buildingsthemselves are masses that harmonize with the campus and with the urbanism ofthe Corniche. Overall, our design creates openness, an outward orientation, andample social spaces, including a reception hall and roof deck in the transparentglass tower. A floor below the deck serves as incubator space for localstartups—an idea we used again for the Beacom School ofBusiness inSouth Dakota.Both buildings open on the Mediterranean side to a terrace that overlooks theCorniche; below are two floors of parking.