Stanford Opens New Business School Complex

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on April 27, 2011

How would a business school’s curriculum look if it were in brick-and-mortar form?

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (Stanford Full-Time MBA Profile) opens a new, 12.5-acre management complex on Friday that might be a good example.

The school overhauled its curriculum in 2007. Part of the remodel included adding coursework that emphasized the overlap of business and other disciplines ranging from science to public policy. The school’s $345 million Knight Management Center will make it possible for students to take full advantage of the new curriculum.

The complex’s eight buildings and three outdoor quads are equipped for engineers, lawyers and medical professionals who pop over for a sojourn to the business school en route to other projects.

One of the center’s buildings houses a 600-seat auditorium that will have its programming booked by the broader university, not the business school. “So, you may have speakers on law, humanities, earth sciences, engineering or medicine,” says Barbara Buel, a spokesperson for the b-school.

Another building has a design classroom with movable, whiteboard room dividers where students can draw and map out potential new products.

“The really big problems in the world require teams of people from different perspectives,” Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner told Bloomberg Businessweek regarding the Knight center. “We don’t want to take a silo approach to any of these problems.”

Another element of the revised Stanford GSB curriculum emphasizes personal leadership, a trait required for negotiating in groups and managing other people, Buell says. That ideal is represented via 70 smaller, breakout study rooms that run throughout the center to encourage group meetings.

Construction on the complex started in 2008, after Nike (NKE) founder Philip Knight contributed $105 million in 2006 to get the project started. At the time, Knight’s gift was the largest ever received by any business school, Buell says.

All eight buildings are expected to receive a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, a further embodiment of the updated curriculum, which includes electives in environmental entrepreneurship. The Knight center will derive 12.5 percent of its energy from solar panels and 90 percent of the interior spaces are positioned for natural light.

—Erin Zlomek

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