Clemson University – Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

  • area / size 176,000 sqft
  • Completed 2021
  • LMN Architects and LS3P worked together to deliver the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business as a prominent space for Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

    Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and sited prominently at the highest point in the area, the five-story Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business creates a new gateway for Clemson University. Inspired by the hills and natural landscape around the site, the building is carved out of the hillside and maximizes accessibility with five entry points that converge at the central atrium.

    A grand public stair flows between the complex’s north and south wings to draw movement westward and down from nearby residence halls into the campus’ historic core, featuring the venerable Bowman Field and Tillman Hall. The project welcomes students on three levels and opens to Bowman Field at its base, where classrooms link to daily campus life. Above grade, the project reaches skyward to a dramatic effect as spacious, daylight-filled common areas inspire students, faculty, and community partners to explore possibilities together.

    This technology-rich, immersive, educational experience stands out as the newest element on campus with an expansive glass façade, high ceilings, and a grand, connecting stairway illuminating an entrepreneurial focus. Elevating recognition, recruitment, and rankings, the complex prepares students to enter today’s competitive marketplace as leaders. Like a modern workplace, a mix of formal and informal spaces encourages hands-on participation through chance encounters, focused study, team collaboration, research laboratories, and group presentations.

    Additionally, various amenities are available for students to come and stay all day, including food service and lounge areas. A combination of tiered, flat, flexible, and high-tech classrooms is based on a common module to allow for pedagogical change over time. Outdoors, interaction spaces, and landscaped areas invite ongoing discussion beyond the classrooms. Environments simulating real-world experiences in sales and financial trading, as well as a designated business incubator, strengthen the chance to join forces with the professional community and launch students’ careers.

    The interior palette is also inspired by the site and is defined by natural materials that echo the solidity of the mountains and celebrate the horizontal strata of the hillside. On the upper levels, vertical and crisp textures contrast and symbolize how the building stands on a solid and rich historic campus but is open to innovation with contemporary and lighter materials. Honoring the past and looking to the future, the building’s brick façade respects its larger historic and natural context, while modern construction technology allows for maximizing both transparency and energy efficiency. The transparent electrochromic glass façade in the atrium is transformed by natural light, and the opacity is stimulated and activated by the changing seasons. Connecting the building with the hill, and the hill with the building, this open and transparent composition anticipates the future while redefining Clemson’s historic campus and establishing a new destination for business education.

    Design: LMN Architects, LS3P
    Design Team: Jennifer Chen, Linnea Cook, Scott Crawford, Michael Day, Mette Greenshields, Eun Jun, Kyle Kiser, Lauren Patnoe, Erik Perka, David Schneider, George Shaw, Robert Smith, Liem Tran, Ka Yan Tsang, Rafael Vinoly, Masako Wada, John Williamson, Rushyan Yen
    Contractor: DPR Construction
    Photography: Mark Herboth