The new 74,000-square-foot Lehigh Business Innovation Building will open this November on the corner of Taylor Street and Packer Avenue after over a year of construction. It will integrate both business and technology in the classroom.
Joe Klocek, interim director of planning, design and construction, said the construction for the new business building was planned on an aggressive schedule to reduce any prolonged impact on campus.
“There should be a lot of activity over the next two months and it will approach completion quickly,” Klocek said.
Georgette Phillips, dean of the College of Business, said a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Business Innovation Building should take place in November, and the building will open for classes in January 2023.
Phillips said construction was set to begin in June 2020, but due to COVID-19, construction began in April 2021. Klocek said construction is still affected by the pandemic due to material and supply chain issues.
The initial plan was to expand Rauch Business Center, since the undergraduate and graduate programs have grown, but it was both “unaffordable” and “obstructive,” Phillips said.
She said the new building will provide more office space, classroom space and space for Executive Education: short-term professional development programs partnered with the Vistex Institute for those in the workforce.
Some features of the Business Innovation Building are as follows: new Financial Services Lab, Lehigh Ventures Lab, a recording studio for business communications, spaces for students to do mock interviews, reservable study spaces and an environmentally green roof.
Tom Gehringer, president of the Gehringer Roofing Contractor Cooperation, said about 5,500 feet of the roof will be covered with sod (or turf) made from sedums, a type of succulent.
Phillips said one of the classrooms ‘in the round,’ a rotunda styled classroom, will foster an environment of open discussion.
Michael Rich, ‘23, a student in the Integrated Business & Engineering (IBE) program, said he prefers an open environment as a student and the new business building will be a helpful opportunity for first-year students.
“I want to be in more of a group-like setting, obviously not in a lecture hall since you have to communicate (directly),” Rich said.
Phillips said the pandemic inspired Hyflex classrooms, or highly flexible classrooms, which have a structure that yields technologies such as ceiling microphones and annotatable monitors.
Phillips said in Spring 2023, certain professors who use innovative methods of teaching will host classes in the new business building.
“You can always stand in front of the class and give a lecture, but we have to do better than that,” Phillips said. “We owe it to our students to think about a more integrative learning experience.”
Joe Buck, vice president of development and alumni relations, said he estimated a total of $25 million in donations that helped fund the new business building.
“When we say every gift counts, it’s true, because I’m trying to instill the behavior that supporting the university is important as an alum,” Buck said. “It’s important to the current students, and it’s part of the fabric of what makes American higher education really, really special.”