Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota DuluthEdit profile
The existing University of Minnesota Duluth campus is organized around a series of connected classroom buildings along a north-south axis. The resulting mega-building, while succeeding in providing protection from harsh northern Minnesota winters, fails to create separate identities for the various schools housed within. The new 6,300 square meter Labovitz School of Business and Economics, positioned at the north end of the campus, shifts to an east-west axis in order to give more definition to the campus, especially as it is approached from the north. It also begins to define a quadrangle between the academic buildings to the east and residential buildings to the west, as well as allows more natural daylight and visual access to the interior. The various programmatic components of the building are articulated both in their massing and their material expression. A two-story base of administrative and instructional spaces, clad in weathering steel, slips under two horizontal floating concrete planes that define the faculty offices. The offices extend over Kirby Drive where the concrete wraps down to the ground to form a gateway to the campus. The elliptical drum of the auditorium leads visitors from the small plaza to the north to the main entry and into a glazed two-story lobby. This space is a mixing bowl which connects all three levels and provides the informal spaces for productive interaction supporting the large and small formal teaching spaces. A three-story circulation spine connects the lobby and existing buildings to the south. The building’s material palette of weathering steel and exposed concrete evokes Duluth’s industrial history.