Calvin University – School of Business

  • area / size 24,000 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • GMB Architecture + Engineering completed the light and expansive space for the School of Business at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    With an increase in enrollment in their business department and a generous alumnus donation, Calvin University sought to add a new School of Business facility to their campus. The location of the facility was first mapped out in the University’s 2015 master plan, which connects it to the existing DeVos Communications Center. With an emphasis on creating a prominent presence on the east side of campus facing the busy Beltline Avenue, the new building creates a statement for the campus that showcases the Calvin identity and brand.

    The project kicked off on the first day of the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020 and the team quickly adapted to virtual planning and design. The project was still able to meet the desired open date in fall 2022.

    The vision of the School of Business building was to inspire others. Classrooms were designed with flexibility in mind so that students could study seamlessly throughout the building. Classrooms are equipped with projectors and cameras for plug and play use, along with table-based furniture for flexibility of use based on teaching or learning style. The case study classroom was designed specifically as a modified tiered classroom for case study instruction to be on par with ivy league schools. The open lobby at the school’s entrance features a running stock ticker so that students feel continually immersed in business culture. A large video wall showing the active stock market, market highlights, or campus news in the same space complements the feeling of learning in a real, global business setting.

    It was important to Calvin that the way the building was defined and shaped would invite views into the instruction and collaboration spaces so that activity within the building could be seen from the Beltline and the campus. The previous business program classrooms were located in a shared building on the north end of campus that no longer served the best interests of Calvin’s growing School of Business. The new building now announces to students, visitors, and passers-by that Calvin offers a serious place to study business in a Christian environment.

    Design decisions, especially for the exterior, centered around giving the building a collegiate presence that spoke to the heritage of Calvin’s campus designed in the prairie style of architecture. Deep overhangs, horizontal windows, modern column structure and heavy use of stone update the traditional architectural style, differentiating the School of Business from the existing building it is connected to. Each building has its own identity and entrance, but also shares a central hub that creates a common culture and meeting place on campus. Drawing on the idea of deepening connections, this hub gives students, faculty, and visitors from all over campus an interconnected space that brings meaning, collaboration, and energy to the area.

    Design: GMB Architecture + Engineering
    Construction Manager: GDK Construction
    Furniture Dealer: Custer
    Photography: Jason Keen