Olin Business School dedicates Knight, Bauer halls

The $90 million, 177,000-square-foot expansion project more than doubles the school's footprint

Student a cappella groups helped celebrate the dedication of Knight and Bauer halls May 2. More than 1,500 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception in the new buildings. (Credit: James Byard/WUSTL PHOTOS)

Hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, business leaders, entrepreneurs and friends of Washington University in St. Louis gathered May 2 and 3 to celebrate a momentous milestone in the 97-year history of the university’s Olin Business School – the dedication of Knight Hall and Bauer Hall, the school’s new state-of-the art buildings.

Calling it a “day of joyous celebration,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton helped usher in a new era in business education on the Danforth Campus that will propel Olin Business School into the 21st century and beyond.

Lead gifts totaling $25 million from two of Washington University’s most dedicated benefactors — $15 million from Charles F. and Joanne Knight, and $10 million from George and Carol Bauer through the Bauer Foundation — provided the capital foundation for the expansion project. In addition, more than 200 donors, many of whom made significant contributions, helped to make the project possible.

More than 1,500 people came together May 2 to witness the official dedication and ribbon cutting for the $90 million, 177,000-square-foot expansion project, followed by a reception under the soaring glass atrium that spans the buildings.

The event featured tours, performances from student a cappella groups and the admiration of multiple generations of students, alumni and friends of the university seeing the buildings for the first time.

An evening at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, including remarks from David N. Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric Co., who also spoke during the dedication ceremony, was followed May 3 by a business symposium on making an impact on the world, featuring the expertise and wisdom of Andy Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, and Diane Sullivan, Brown Shoe Co.’s CEO, president and chairman of the board.

A panel discussion in the Emerson Auditorium on “Innovation in the Era of Entrepreneurism” showcased the entrepreneurial spirit and business success of several Olin alumni. Participants were Thomas Hillman, AB ’78, managing partner at FTL Capital LLC; Seth Burgett, MBA ’09, chairman and CEO of Yurbuds; Mary Jo Gorman, MD, MBA ’96, founder of Advanced ICU Care; and Gabe Lozano, co-founder and CEO of lockerdome.

Students got their first look at Knight and Bauer halls March 17 as the buildings opened for classes.

The buildings feature open, collaborative spaces meant to inspire further business and entrepreneurial innovation among faculty and students.

“Olin’s student body has more than doubled since we built our first building in 1986, and we have twice as many faculty and degree programs. Expanding our facilities will provide room to collaborate across these programs and with other disciplines across campus,” said Mahendra R. Gupta, PhD, dean and the Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management.

“The Knights and the Bauers have provided not only the financial foundation for us to achieve this significant milestone in our history, they have provided insight, wisdom and counsel, along with a deep commitment to the success of our students, the future business leaders of our region and our world,” Gupta said.

The building ensemble, which more than doubles the footprint of Olin Business School on the Danforth Campus, includes 11 classrooms in tiered lecture configurations and innovative “flat” classroom styles, with mobile furniture that allows for small group study, presentations, lectures and other interactive learning arrangements. All classrooms are equipped with digital technology for video conferencing, lecture capture, and multi-screen presentations.

Designed by the award-winning architecture firm of Moore Ruble Yudell, the two halls are joined by a three-story glass atrium that rises above an open amphitheater in the center of the building. That combination allows natural light to flood all five levels of the building. Large public spaces as well as quiet study areas emphasize transparency and afford views of the campus and the activities throughout the interior of the buildings.

Sustainable construction features

From an electric car-charging station to the passive climate and air-quality controls, the buildings are designed to high standards of sustainability and energy efficiency that will have a positive impact on the environment on campus and beyond. A high level of recycled materials were used in construction, along with sustainably harvested woods and materials from regional sources. The expansion project is registered with a certification goal by the U.S. Green Building Council of LEED-NC v.2009 Gold.

The Business School’s Charles F. Knight Executive Education and Conference Center is connected to the new Knight Hall and Bauer Hall complex. Extensive renovation of Olin’s Simon Hall will take place over the next three summers.

“Olin Business School’s trajectory of success among the nation’s very best business schools has received a significant boost thanks to the generosity of Joanne and Chuck Knight and Carol and George Bauer,” Wrighton said. “The leadership and wisdom they have provided us over many years is valued greatly, and their financial investment has provided us with the resources needed to take Olin to the next level of excellence. They are wonderful friends of the university who inspire us in many different ways.”

The Mackey Mitchell Architects firm of St. Louis was the associate architect on the project. Mechanical engineering firms Buro Happold and William Tao & Associates worked on the project, and Tarlton Corp. was the construction services provider and manager.

About Olin Business School

Washington University’s business school was founded in 1917 and named in honor of John M. Olin, St. Louis-based industrialist and philanthropist, in 1987. Olin offers 10 degree programs, including BSBA, MBA, specialized master’s, Executive MBA, and doctoral options. A flexible curriculum allows for career-oriented experiences every semester, such as consulting projects in the U.S. or abroad, internships and board fellowships, plus study options on six continents. Entrepreneurship courses and competitions foster a thriving startup environment. Olin alumni lead with purpose, integrity and critical thinking skills required to succeed in the global economy. For more information, visit olin.wustl.edu.

Heard at the dedication:

(Charles F. Knight was unable to attend the ceremony. His son Lester represented the family.)
“My father would love this day. He would love having his family here. He would love the large turnout, with all of you coming to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work. My dad has lived by a simple philosophy – do whatever it takes to be the best. To him there was no second place, there was no good sport. He taught his children this. He demanded it at Emerson and he wished it for Washington University. These buildings send the message that we are committed to doing whatever it takes to be the best, to attract the best faculty and the best students from around the world to study and learn in our business school.”

— Lester B. Knight, son of Charles F. Knight and founding partner and co-chairman of RoundTable Healthcare Partners.

“Carol and I are delighted to be here this afternoon. It’s hard to describe those fantastic structures next door. I came out to St. Louis a month or two ago and I decided to stand on the sidewalk in front of the buildings and listen to what the students had to say as they passed by. There are three words or phrases I heard that I’d like to use today to thank the three groups of people for their contributions to these magnificent structures. These words were ‘awesome,’ ‘dynamite’ and ‘it blew me away.’ First, planning. Planning for these buildings has been awesome. Mahendra, to you and your faculty and staff and all the time you’ve put into thinking about the classrooms, collaborative space and the opportunities for expansion, we all owe you a debt of gratitude. And then the design and architecture. Nothing short of dynamite. Then one takes these sheets of paper with blue lines on them to the construction site and the electricians and the plumbers and the carpenters and the masons and all those other workers, the journeymen, the master mechanics, with their years of experience, turn those plans into reality. The results of all that wonderful work blow us away.”

— George Bauer, emeritus trustee, Washington University Board of Trustees, and chairman and CEO of GPB Group Ltd.

“A project of this magnitude takes a lot of
planning and perfect execution. Business schools nationwide are
upgrading in a race to attract the brightest students and faculty.
Enrollment at Olin Business School has climbed steadily over the years,
and that’s really nice to see. But doubling the school’s footprint on
the Danforth Campus was fundamental to continuing to draw the best and
brightest students and researchers we need to accelerate innovation and
building the expertise the U.S. economy needs to be successful and win
against the best in the world. Washington University understands how to
create leaders and provides the training and development it will take
for new leaders to make a difference, to have the right stuff to win.
This school is giving its graduates the global view and perspective they
will need to manage the Emersons and other great global companies if we
are to remain strong and successful throughout the next century and beyond.”

— David N. Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric Co.