New buildings for the Stephen M. Ross school
In order to maintain its stature as the premier business school in the nation, the Ross School at the University of Michigan commissioned a master plan study to assess existing building capabilities and to determine whether the building should be renovated or demolished and reconstructed. The program was faced with the need to provide both a variety of instructional and meeting spaces to support the school’s action-based curriculum, and a physical centre of gravity for the school’s intellectual and social life that would allow for informal and formal interaction between students, faculty, the university and the surrounding community.
Early site planning studies revealed that, to meet the school’s program requirements, certain portions of existing buildings would need to be demolished—and since the school wanted to remain in its current location, demolition and new construction had to be coordinated with relocation strategies that integrated Ross School faculty and students within existing buildings. Essential to the success of the design of the new building was relating the typical tiered classroom to group study spaces. A sense of local identity was also important for both the building on the university campus and for distinct groups within the school.
Respect for the contextual language and history had to be balanced with the goal of projecting a forward-looking image for the school. The design organises elements around a central winter garden that opens directly to the street, providing a distinctive presence and a new 'front door' for the school. Circulation patterns are refined to link both existing and new building components into this new heart of the business school campus. An auditorium, tiered and flat classrooms and group study spaces - all equipped with state-of-the-art technology - open directly onto the winter garden, taking advantage of central student lounge areas and café seating.