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Haas School of Business New Academic Building


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Sara Johnson


Partnership for Haas Preeminence

Year Completed



74,000 sq. feet
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Project Description


The New Academic Building for the Walter A. Haas School of Business is an important element in the ensemble of buildings that comprise the school and will become a dynamic part of its campus. It occupies a site just to the north of the newly transformed Haas Courtyard and provides a gregarious and welcoming new hub for the Haas community. Inspired by the original Haas campus, the character of the new building shares many architectural aspects of the existing buildings. These architectural elements, however, have been transformed and reordered to give this new building, to open almost exactly 20 years after the original, a confident contemporary expression of the school’s evolution, its commitment to 21st Century global education and the assurance that rapid and unpredictable change is a fact for all great academic institutions. Not only does the New Academic Building owe a great deal to the existing Haas campus in its architectural vocabulary, but also relates strongly to both the historic architectural traditions of the Berkeley campus and to some of the exceptional newer buildings that have come on line in recent years. Thus it has a dual responsibility, to be both an integral part of Haas and a significant addition to the University of California, Berkeley campus. 

In designing the new structure, we have responded to some of the obvious challenges of the existing building, and have designed it from the inside out as well as from the outside in, with a powerful, consistent relationship between program and exterior expression. The plan layout is repetitive, simple and direct, the circulation system crystal clear and way finding made simple and obvious. Unlike its predecessor, the new building is designed for flexibility and change, and asserts its time and place as the newest part of a brilliant, ambitious and humane 21st Century School of Business, respectful of the past but forward-looking. Teaching spaces can be transformed from tiered to flat flexible floor classrooms. There are ample breakout rooms adjacent to every teaching space and, at the heart of each floor, a generous amount of "intermediate" space that can be used flexibly for group discussions, casual meetings, spontaneous activities and the informal hospitality for which Haas is known. The dual lobbies—one along College Way, the other from the Courtyard—are spatially interconnected, tying together the two public floors. The windows are designed to frame views and, particularly on the south and southeastern facades, both to control sun and glare, but also to face the courtyard and offer a gregarious and active display of the community at work. This way the Haas community and its guests will always be conscious of the scholarly activity and interactions taking place in the breakout rooms, day and night.

The building also takes every opportunity to respect its solar and view orientations but also the existing site character, to protect and celebrate the adjacent beautiful trees—oaks and redwoods—and in a sense bring them into the everyday experience of the building interior. Targeting a LEED Gold rating, the New Academic Building is designed to create an environment that enhances human health, comfort and performance. Its open stair serves all levels of the teaching spaces and actively encourages walking between the floors. Most of the spaces are day lit, and daylight is actively and passively controlled. Most rooms have operable windows, and all have exceptional indoor air quality. An efficient, energy-conscious, contemporary mechanical system with chilled beams and radiantly cooled and heated floors serves the building, which will also feature wire management, state-of-the-art technology, excellent acoustics and responsive artificial lighting. A cistern collects rainwater from the roof and can be reused for a variety of purposes. Designed to be as environmentally responsible as possible, the design reflects Haas's Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.
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