Lehigh’s Business Innovation Building, the newest academic building added to the university’s campus, has been honored with the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) 2023 National Design Award.
The SARA National Design Award is an annual recognition that honors outstanding achievements in architecture. This award program typically acknowledges architects and architecture firms for their excellence in design, innovation and contributions to the field.
Lehigh’s 74,000-square-foot facility that won the award this year, which officially opened on March 3, 2020, sits on the corner of Taylor Street and Packer Avenue, including modern classrooms, collaborative workspaces and a business incubator.
Georgette Chapman Philips, the dean of the College of Business, said this award is a great attraction to prospective students and business students in particular.
She said the Business Innovation Building allows for student-centered learning and increased engagement in the facility, fostering an environment that allows students to engage in a variety of interactive activities.
“The award itself I don’t think will be the sole attraction, it’s what the award symbolizes,” Philips said. “It’s the beautiful design, the care and the painstaking attention to detail that our architects spent in putting together a gorgeous building — and that’s what attracts students.”
The building is intended to add to the footprint of the Rauch Business Center, according to the College of Business website.
Philips said the college was looking to build more instructional and programmatic space back in 2017, with an emphasis on newer classroom spaces and flexible and functional learning environments.
Sophie Hatfield, ’25, president of the Lehigh Women in Business Club, said the Business Innovation Building is a great space for team meetings and collaboration.
“I find that hosting workshops with companies is best in here,” Hatfield said.
Management professor Kenneth Mawritz said the building offers great spaces for students to network with other students or collaborate with peers.
He said both Rauch and the Business Innovation Building offer significant capabilities, but the new building stands out due to its incorporation of modern technologies and newly constructed facilities.
“Obviously with the new building, each room is nice,” Mawritz said. “However, you can still do a lot with Rauch, so I am happy to be in both buildings.”
Andrew Ward, the chair of the management department, said the Business Innovation Building was built to modernize the classroom experience for both faculty and students, making classes more interactive and less lecture-based.
Ward also said new technologies in the Business Innovation Building enable his classes to run smoothly and efficiently. Specifically, he said the building hosts a new behavioral lab in the lower level where our faculty and students can engage in behavioral research.
“I think that is a game-changer for us,” Ward said.
Finance professor McKay Price said this award symbolizes the warm environment of the Business Innovation Building and getting the recognition the building deserves.
She said she enjoys the layout of the building and its classrooms, especially the large monitors and ample whiteboard space in the Bosland Financial Services Lab, where she teaches three classes.
“I like the design,” McKay said. “There is a sense of place as you approach and enter the building. I appreciate the modern finishes and classrooms.”
Price also said she appreciated the functionality of the Lehigh Ventures lab, a dedicated workspace in the Business Innovation Building.
“We’ve just been so incredibly proud of the Ventures Lab and all that’s going on there,” Price said.
Since the Business Innovation Building was built, Philips said Lehigh is now capable of hosting important community events, such as a town hall with Rep. Susan Wild.
“That is the beauty of the Business Innovation Building,” Philips said. “Everybody is welcome and the design and aesthetics are what sets us apart.”