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There won't be many places for professors to hide from students or each other in the University of Utah's new home for its David Eccles School of Business.
Faculty offices and conference rooms have large windows into wide halls, which are furnished with comfy chairs in which students are welcome to lounge, and corridors that look onto the floors above and below.
The idea is to promote dialogue and camaraderie between students and their mentors, according to U. business dean Taylor Randall, as well as discussions across disciplines. Faculty from the school's five departments will be mixed together, rather than relegated to separate wings, reflecting the interdisciplinary future of scholarly research.
"The openness is symbolic of what the business school is trying to be," Randall said. "It's no longer about designing a classroom, but designing an experience."
The first phase of the eight-story building, destined to anchor the south end of campus, will be dedicated Thursday, followed by a tailgate celebration Saturday before the UCLA game. Although the building won't open for classes until next semester, students were already gathering in its many conference rooms this week.
Administrators named the building after David Eccles' grandson Spencer Fox Eccles, a Utah banking executive and enthusiastic U. supporter.
"Business schools have all been expanding and the top ones all have cutting-edge quarters," said Eccles, the reigning patriarch of the family whose name has became synonymous with higher education philanthropy in Utah. "It's a competitive field. We might be a tad late. We need this to attract and hold the best faculty and recruit top students."
Money from Eccles family foundations has helped build the new U.'s natural history museum, an observatory, medical education and research buildings, and rebuild the football stadium, not to mention add arts and education facilities at Utah State University.
The quad between the business school and the Christensen building to the west is named in honor of educator Emma Eccles Jones, who provided the $15 million endowment that helps sustain the school. The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation provided $17.5 million toward the $72 million business building.
Yet Spencer Eccles, a nephew to George and Emma and chairman of the foundation, said the university's announcement to name the building after him came as a surprise.
"I was stunned," said Eccles, a 1956 U. graduate. "It's such a thrill to be associated with an institution that is so important. It is an honor to have my name linked to my grandfather."
David Eccles, Emma and George's father, was a pioneering industrialist who emigrated from Scotland in 1863 and helped establish Utah's construction industry.
The new building rose over the ruins of the Madsen building, and construction soon will begin on the second phase over the soon-to-be razed Garff building. The school's former home, dating to the 1960s, was built when it served 800 students. Today, 4,200 students are pursuing degrees in its programs in management, accounting, marketing, information systems, entrepreneurship and finance.
"We outgrew the school some time ago," said Randall, the grandson of Clyde Randall, who was business dean when those old buildings went up.
The meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and desks are arranged so students face each other. Among Randall's favorite features is a glassed-in conference room called Deep Dive, where students will be assigned to work on intense group projects. The walls' dry-erase surface will allow students to cover them with their ideas.
The university is aiming for silver LEED certification, a level of environmental-friendly design required for new campus buildings. Randall said the Eccles building is expected to use just half the power per square foot of the typical academic building in the West.
Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building
The first phase of the University of Utah's new home for its School of Business is complete, rising eight stories over the south end of campus. The entire 188,623-square foot project is expected to be finished by May 2013 at a cost of $72 million. It was designed by MHTN Architects and built by Okland Construction. U. officials will dedicate the building, 1655 E. Campus Drive, at 11 a.m. Thursday.