Bearing a small tree, the Stars and Stripes and a toy version of Southern’s mascot, Otus the Owl, the final steel beam for the new home for the School of Business swung up and into the building’s framework on Jan. 21, 2022.
This “topping” event marking the halfway point for an environmentally sustainable structure that will provide a launching pad for expanding the school’s offerings and developing new partnerships with the business community.
Powered by energy from geothermal wells and solar panels, this will also be the first state-constructed building to be net-zero in terms of its carbon footprint, exemplifying the university’s commitment to creating a sustainable campus.
“This expansive new building – which will be more than double the size of its predecessor – will offer the latest in technology and provide a wonderful array of learning opportunities for our students,” said President Joe Bertolino.
“It will equip them with the skills and knowledge they will need to become leaders in both business and society,” Bertolino said. “And that is a boon to Connecticut, because as we know, more than 85 percent of Southern graduates stay on to live and work in the state.”
Scheduled for completion in early 2023, the four-story, 60,000-square-foot structure will include nine general classrooms, as well as several specialized classrooms and lecture halls. It also will feature a behavioral lab area with an observation room; a community room seating 100 people; a large classroom and administrative suite for the MBA program; and an area designated for financial market and data analytics.
A stock market ticker will be observable outside the first floor, near the corner of Wintergreen and Farnham avenues. And the school’s new Business Success Center will have locations for employers to meet with and interview Southern students, and programs to assist students with their job searches and career planning.
“What an important milestone for the School of Business!” said Dean Jennifer Robin. “Little more than four months ago, we gathered as a community to mark the groundbreaking for this building and now we are one step closer to moving into our new home.
“We have big goals in the School of Business to better serve our amazing students – this new building, AACSB accreditation, international partnerships, and new programs – and these goals are years in the making. “
Robin, who oversaw the AACSB accreditation process at her previous institution, says achieving this designation – expected later this year – will further bolster the image of Southern’s business school.
“It is the gold standard in terms of signaling the high quality of business education at the collegiate level,” she said. “And the accreditation would provide us with an engine for continuous improvement.”
The business school also received a timely boost in 2021, with a $500,000 gift made through the Amour Propre Fund to establish the School of Business Endowment for Leadership Development at Southern. It is the largest contribution ever made in support of business students at the university.
“I am grateful to everyone who has helped us to get to this point – the architects, construction crews, our own facilities staff, the system’s Department of Construction Services, not to mention our generous donors, devoted staff and faculty within the School of Business, and all of my other Southern colleagues who have supported this project,” Robin said.
The project was designed by Oak Park Architects and Sasaki Design, while Shawmut Construction and Jacobs Engineering Group serve as the construction manager and administrator, respectively.
Southern’s facilities team is led by Executive Vice President Mark Rozewski, and Eric Lessne, AVP for capital budgeting and facilities operations, supported by Peter Visentin, director of facilities planning and architectural services.
The topping of a steel and concrete building with a tree is a contractor’s tradition begun years ago by Scandinavians who believed their gods lived in trees.
In those days, everything was built of wood, of course, and the builders believed they had to appease the gods whose trees they felled for construction.
Today, adding a tree is a nod to sturdy and lasting craftsmanship and a symbol of good luck to the owner.