SOM redesign to bolster curriculum

As renowned architect Lord Norman Foster ARC ’62 and his firm Foster + Partners prepare to release more detailed plans for a new School of Management campus scheduled to go up in 2011, students and administrators involved in planning the construction are becoming excited about the new complex’s ability to better serve the SOM’s unique curriculum and educational mission.

Although construction on the new campus, which could cost upwards of $150 million, will not be completed for several years, students and faculty said new facilities will compliment the substantial curricular reform the school implemented last year.

SOM Dean Joel Podolny said many elements of the design incorporate the school’s curriculum, which stresses interdisciplinary study and incorporates fields such as finance and marketing. Often two professors teach a course together, which allows them to focus on class participation, said Kristen Silvi SOM ’08 and Koichi Kurisu SOM ‘08, two students on the SOM building committee.

Silvi said one of her suggestions to the architects was to design hemispherical classrooms to allow for group interaction and enhance class participation.

Currently, many students have difficulty finding ample space to work on projects or study together, Han Lee SOM ’08 said. In order to remedy this problem, the new 230,000-square-foot building will be almost double the size of SOM’s current facilities, Podolny said.

The new building will be located on a four-acre plot on Whitney Ave.

Even though current students in the school — who generally spend two years attaining their Masters of Business Administration — will not have the opportunity to take classes in the new facility, students interviewed said they are thankful that the University will update their facilities.

The new building is necessary so that the face of the School of Management can match the increasing competitiveness the school has attained through its new curriculum, the students said.

“The most important reason for the new campus is that it supports our curriculum and the revolutionary changes we have been making about the way in which management education is delivered,” Podolny said.

As important as the curriculum is to attracting applicants, the appearance of the new campus will play a large role in recruitment, Justin Tomljanovic SOM ’08 said. The facilities need to be improved to match the SOM’s growing prestige, he said.

“This school has a lot of prestige already, but among MBA students, people seem to think that having a brand new building is somehow correlated with a better education, which is something that most people here would disagree with,” Tomljanovic said.

As Foster + Partners develops more concrete plans for the new building, students will provide the architects with feedback through Silvi and Kurisu. Students have insisted that the classrooms have natural sunlight and that space be provided for interaction and discussion among students, Silvi said. The design will incorporate a courtyard configuration, in keeping with the rest of Yale’s campus, Podolny said.

The SOM is currently raising $300 million as part of the $3 billion Yale Tomorrow capital campaign.

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