The design for the new Graduate School of Business at Columbia University offers an opportunity to embrace innovation in the pedagogy of business education. The building is designed to use the creative enterprise of the school to facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction between the professional world, the campus, and the community at large. The flexibility of spaces (in both the short- and long-term) drives the design approach.
The design seeks to remove constraints on both instruction and student development, and to create a building which not only supports the need for flexibility, but which celebrates community as a central tenet. Student work-study spaces and faculty divisional spaces are concentrated in plan and section to promote collaboration across all disciplines. In addition, the spaces are connected vertically within a series of voids and internal staircases, and paralleled on several floors in one intensified zone.
Both formal and informal interactions and encounters are encouraged throughout the design. Consideration for the interior organisation of spaces in relationship to one another begins with the circulation. Corridors are considered not in terms of size, but for their capacity to contain and distribute large concentrations of people, whilst simultaneously accommodating surges in traffic and lingering individuals. Infrastructural space is employed to orchestrate informal interaction and enable a heterogeneous mixture of these spaces that are open for reconfiguration and appropriation. The building, therefore, has no traditional corridors, but maintains qualitative networking conditions.