Behind the Ionic columns and brick façade at the College of Business Administration building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, classrooms designed for a 20th century education have gone the way of chalkboards and overhead projectors.
New, interactive education initiatives at the college, combined with meteoric growth in enrollment, have pushed the college beyond the limits of its current building that opened a century ago.
Replacing the old building this fall is a modern sandstone building with long glass facades, which allow natural light to filter throughout the state-of-the-art, first-of-their-kind classroom spaces.
Blocking the eastern end of what UNL hopes to transform into a pedestrian space bookended by Memorial Stadium to the west, the $84 million, 240,000-square-foot space will launch a new era in business education at the university.
Let’s start from the bottom.
Even below ground, windows looking out onto a sunken courtyard fill the hallways outside two auditoriums and several breakout rooms for meetings and conferences with natural light.
The larger of the two auditoriums seats 385 people in a traditional theater-style setting and will be available for conferences hosted by UNL and for rent by outside business partners.
A similar auditorium seating 150 people just down the hallway features moveable furniture that allows for users to move and interact with one another.
Those two classroom setups — static and kinetic — are replicated throughout the new CBA building in student-centric ways.
Traditional classrooms will hold 80 students in a U-shaped setting inspired by classes at the Harvard School of Business, according to Rik Barrera, assistant dean for business and chief operating officer.
But so-called “cluster classrooms” that can seat 50 students and allow them to move and collaborate are also under construction.
Scattered throughout are smaller meeting areas — breakout rooms — that were the result of student input on the project, Barrera said.
“They said we want to be alone, but together,” he said.
Barrera said the building’s main level — which has openings facing each direction — was designed with the goal of building on the community feel the business college has developed in recent years.
A cafe just inside the south entrance, with a mural depicting Husker gameday, will become a spot for students and the public to congregate.
The career services division will be headquartered just inside the north entrance. Started by former dean Donde Plowman, the office helps students polish resumes and interviewing skills and helps them seek internships and jobs upon graduation.
A kinetic sculpture designed by American artist George Rickey and donated to UNL by a Chicago business will be hung facing Vine Street.
The entrance facing Memorial Stadium, the main entrance to the building, will showcase 21st century learning.
A lab built to resemble a stock trading floor, complete with TVs and a Wall Street ticker, will give students a lifelike experience in finance.
Just down the hall will be another lab Barrera said CBA hopes will draw interest from the public as well as future business students.
“No one else in this country has this,” he said, showing off the Husker Business Lab. “We are going to run a retail store selling Husker clothing out of this building.”
The joint venture between the Husker athletic department and Fanatics will be operated at all levels — all the way up to a board of directors — by UNL students.
“The data we gather from this will be used in our classrooms,” Barrera said. Marketing students will use the information to come up with an effective marketing strategy; management classes will use data to streamline operations, and so on.
“Virtually every one of our majors will be involved in this,” he added.
Above the first floor is the Great Hall, now dominated by a complex scaffolding system as crews from Hausmann Construction complete their work.
Seating areas permeate the space, with balconies overlooking the hall from the department suites located on the building’s top floors.
But it’s a classroom space designed for master’s students that may be the jewel of the new building.
Located in the glass-enclosed space CBA administrators are calling “The Cube,” the second-floor classroom in the northwest corner of the building offers a clean view down the mall to Memorial Stadium.
“There are going to be a lot of distracted students in here,” Barrera said.