Sasaki was retained, in collaboration with Caldwell Associates, by the University of West Florida to design and renovate the new College of Business Education Center. This two-phase project created a new front door to the college by establishing a 35,000-square-foot building that functions as a connecting element between the existing buildings, thereby creating a more unified College of Business Education Center. Central to the design concept is a three-story glass atrium which encourages student and faculty interaction. Attractive outdoor spaces and courtyards create an active learning environment and enhance the sense of a new College of Business community.
Due to a lack of physical and operational connectivity between the two existing college buildings, the design team sought a solution that would transform the site into a small campus, taking advantage of the existing layout of smaller buildings on the site to create a unique environment where the interior and exterior spaces are fully integrated. The design of the new building provides a sense of home and place, as well as an architectural gateway to and from the rest of the campus.
The connector building supports a sense of community within the complex by providing large, shaded glass exposures to gain maximum transparency. The addition also includes two adjacent expansion elements connected by covered outdoor passages, providing space for a variety of new program elements including additional office space, student activities functions, and classroom elements.
Numerous classrooms, a state-of-the-art, 50-seat case study classroom, ten small team rooms, eight small group study rooms, and two study lounges provide a variety of outlets for learning. Forty faculty offices, a new dean's suite, and student advising offices provide transparency to faculty within the building. The program also includes an instructional studio, a media production studio with control room for distance learning, exhibition and activity space, and a trading and investment lounge.
Targeting LEED Gold certification, the design team carefully considered a climate-appropriate materials palette reflective of the building's surroundings. The design also includes innovative stormwater solutions and photovoltaic solar-assisted systems.