Celebrating collaboration through building design at Bradley University
Bradley University’s new Business and Engineering Convergence Center is aptly named.
Through its very design, the US$100 million building will encourage collaboration – upon completion, it will be the new home of the Foster College of Business, Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology and the Institute for Innovation through Collaboration.
What it aims to do is bring the two disciplines together, simulating real-world scenarios where workers in both sectors will inevitably team up on projects.
Fostering collaboration through building design is an emerging trend in the higher education space as more campus leaders explore avenues to supplement their traditional educational offerings.
More than just architectural beauties, buildings like Bradley’s Convergence Center are kitted out with facilities to encourage interaction and spark conversation.
Natural lighting, wide hallways and an open atrium will spark a feeling of limitless possibilities among its occupants, which is exactly the sort of mindset the university wants encouraged at the centre.
“Innovation doesn’t come from sending emails. It comes from people sitting down and talking to each other,” Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology Dean Lex Akers said during a dedication ceremony earlier this month, reported the Journal Star.
“Our mission was not to build a monument to the past, but a beacon to the future,” he added in a media release.
“I could not be more excited, more delighted and more proud as our business and engineering programs enter a new era of unsurpassed excellence,” said university President Gary R. Roberts.
“What this enables these two great colleges to do by innovation and collaboration is truly transformational.”
Over 300 faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters turned up for the event, held to celebrate the first and largest phase of the 270,000-square-foot structure.
The university’s largest-ever construction project, the Business and Engineering Convergence Center will feature over 200 offices, 28 classrooms, eight computer labs and 46 specialised labs.
Prior to the completion of the first phase, faculty and staff began moving into the new building. They will continue the move in a staggered manner, the university says, as work on their classrooms have completed.
Interim Foster College Dean Matthew O’Brien said the aim to inspire collaboration through building design extends far beyond the physical confines of the university.
The convergence centre is expected to enhance Peoria’s Main Street corridor by enriching livability in surrounding neighbourhoods and stimulating business innovation activity.
“Day to day, we see the Business and Engineering Convergence Center as a hub for student interaction, but our intent and vision are that the collaboration between our students and faculty will also be seen by our community,” he said.
— Bradley University (@bradleyu) November 1, 2019
According to the university, the new centre also stands as a tribute to two noted Bradley leaders: former engineering college dean and university president Martin Abegg, and longtime economics professor and provost Kal Goldberg. There are physical reminders of the duo within the building atrium in the form of a statue of Goldberg and a portrait of Abegg.
Work on the first phase is mostly complete, with finishing touches currently being worked on. Work on the second phase will continue through 2020 and will include the demolition of Jobst Hall and the construction of the Convergence Center’s remaining wing.