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Oklahoma State University

Under One Roof

New Business Building rendering
Basement addition will give Spears School a single home after all.

By Terry Tush

Jan Analla has felt like a floater even though she plays a vital role in the success of the Spears School of Business.

Analla, the assistant director of business graduate programs, and other staff in the Watson Graduate School of Management are housed in Gundersen Hall, not in the Business Building on Oklahoma State University’s Stillwater campus. The short walk across Morrill Avenue to the Spears School’s main office sometimes feels hundreds of miles long.

It’s not just the Watson Graduate School staff that often feels disjointed. For years, the Business Building has lacked the space to house all of the Spears School personnel; thus, faculty, staff and graduate students are housed in six different buildings in Stillwater — four on campus and two off campus.

The new $75 million, state-of-the-art Spears School building will bring them all under a single roof. Ground was broken in November on the 140,000-squarefoot facility, and it should be completed in 2018. When it opens, all Spears School personnel will be housed together to serve more than 4,500 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students.

“An important part of what we’ve heard from the beginning is the vibrancy of having the students and the faculty able to collaborate and work together,” says Nigel Jones, OSU university architect. “If we ended up with it just housing the faculty offices and some research, you wouldn’t have that collaboration.

“So we needed to have the classrooms in the building as well, which brings the students and faculty together each day.”

The planners chose to add a basement with about 40,000 square feet of useable space. It will include a large auditorium and six of the building’s nine classrooms. The main auditorium will be directly below the courtyard of the crescent-shaped building, Jones says.

“Usually the mechanical rooms are on the top floor,” says Mike Buchert, director of OSU’s Long Range Facilities Planning office, which is working with Elliott + Associates Architects on the project. “In this particular building, which has a great view, we really wanted that space for other purposes, so we put the mechanical rooms down in the basement. It’s the perfect solution.”

Buchert says the basement will give OSU a wind shelter on the east side of campus. There are 28 areas designated as shelter areas across campus, but none can handle more than about 1,000 people.

“The new Business Building basement will hold 4,000 to 5,000 people and be the largest on campus,” Buchert says.

It was important that the building on the eastern bookend of the main quad have the same look and feel as others across campus, Buchert says.

“I think the other thing that’s important is we want a certain look on campus, a certain feel, and we want open spaces, courtyards. Without the basement, we had a separate building that wouldn’t have a courtyard and wouldn’t have the proper feeling,” he says. “Putting the basement in seems to fulfill everything that is our desire in our master plan.

“It will be a vibrant building while also having places for people to gather outside the building. It has open space and green spaces, and the buildings align with the legacy walk. By putting a basement in, it fulfills its look and function. On top of that, we have a tremendous wind-resistant structure that we can put several thousand people in during an event. So it was a plus, plus, plus in my mind.”

The classrooms in the building will incorporate flexibility and interactivity. Movable furniture will facilitate various configurations, as the tiered classrooms will allow students to easily collaborate on projects and incorporate small-group exercises into class time. This flexibility reflects the curriculum’s hands-on, experiential-learning approach to prepare graduates for success in the modern workplace.

“I think there are three things about the building that Oklahoma State and Spears School alumni would want to know,” Buchert says. “Number one, the library and student union are iconic buildings on campus, but this was not being designed as an iconic building. It’s neo-Georgian but it’s a different look, and if you see a picture of it you’ll know right away that that’s the OSU Business Building.

“Number two, in terms of its ability to help students learn and interact, it’ll be on the top of the lists of business schools in the nation. With what we’re incorporating, students can talk to one another, students can work together in groups, business leaders can come in and talk to students. … One of the priorities with this building is that we’ve designed it with a lot of flexibility.

“The third thing is the technology in this building. We are putting in a lot of extra conduit because we don’t know what the technology is going to be 10 years from now. We want to have the ability to add future technological advances and not spend a lot of dollars, so we’re putting in a lot of extra conduits and other features in the building that don’t cost that much money but will help us with technology in the future.”

Elliott + Associates Architects of Oklahoma City is the architect for the new building, and Manhattan Construction was selected by the Board of Regents as the construction firm.