The expectations of the new generation of MBA student requires a different type of campus. The designers of one of the US’s most expensive academic buildings have clearly thought hard about what a highly ranked MBA college ought to look like.
Constructed on a former car park in the centre of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Tepper School of Business’s $201m campus building opened its plate glass floor-to-ceiling doors to students and faculty last September. The 315,000 sq ft brick, steel and concrete edifice houses a virtual reality learning laboratory, a 600-seater auditorium and the largest fitness centre on campus.
The visit was a very slick experience. My only struggle — apart from meeting executive MBA students touring the campus virtually on iPad mounted bots — was finding my way up the swirling staircases to the secluded office of Bob Dammon, Tepper’s dean.
It took the fundraising team close to a decade to persuade 1,250 alumni, including billionaire American businessman David Tepper, to donate the necessary cash for the building. But doing nothing was not an option, according to Mr Dammon.
“People would want to know why we needed to do a building like this,” he says. “My answer is that it is an arms race.”
The global competition to construct ever more luxurious facilities at business schools has reached new levels in the past couple of years.
Cornell Tech is a technology, business, law and design campus still being completed on Roosevelt Island in New York. The main academic building, opened in 2019, is a $115m, five-storey structure. It was designed to be “net-zero energy”and only consumes power it generates itself.