Manhattan Construction Creates New $63M Home for Oklahoma State Spears School of Business
Outgrowing its current 50-year-old building and with offices spread across six buildings on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, the Spears School of Business needed a new home, so the university hired Manhattan Construction to build a $63 million, crescent-shaped structure now coming out of the ground.
"The new building will provide enough space to house us all, and more importantly, it will have educational space to better prepare our students for the future," says Ken Eastman, Dean of the Business School.
The Need for a New Structure
The current building opened in 1966 and has served the school well. However, mechanical and electrical systems have worn out, finding parts for systems have become more challenging and the roof leaks. Additionally, it reflects the architecture and learning styles of its time. The new building will feature spaces where students can collaborate and meet with teachers in comfortable spaces.
"It will be much more vibrant than our current building," Eastman says.
Eastman and other school officials visited several other university campuses as well as Google's and Cisco's headquarters for inspiration and ideas. Elliott + Associates Architects of Oklahoma City came up with the crescent design.
"It would allow the building to have an iconic look but stay true to the Neo-Georgian architecture of the entire campus," Eastman said. "Once people saw it, they fell in love with it."
Mike Buchert, Director of Long Range Facilities Planning at Oklahoma State, added that crescent-shaped buildings of this style are more common in Europe than the United States. With the building situated at the end of a walkway from the library, it will provide a stately presence.
"When you walk into the crescent area, it will be very impressive," Buchert says.
About one-third of the building will contain classrooms, another third business offices and the final third are spaces where students and faculty can collaborate and talk. They will be outfitted with movable furniture. Another area allows for private-sector business people and alumni to come to campus and chat with students. About 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend the business school.
Donors provided more than half of the cost of the building, with the university and business school coming up with the rest.
Manhattan Construction in Oklahoma City began construction on the 144,000-square-foot, four-story building in early 2015. The company has a long history of working on the Oklahoma State campus.
The company actually began work one year prior, demolishing two existing buildings in 2014, Hanner Hall and a portion of the existing business school structure, explains Chad Kendrick, Project Manager for Manhattan Construction in Oklahoma City. 2014 marked the business school's 100-year anniversary.
"We enjoy working on campus and coming to work every day," Kendrick says.
The project was bid in a series of packages, so the project could begin earlier than expected.
Preparing for High Winds
Initially, the university did not plan on a basement, but then the school decided to provide additional funds for a 45,000-square-foot basement that can shelter 4,000 people during high-wind events. Most of the classrooms are in the basement, including a large 150-seat classroom and five 65-seat classrooms. Mechanical rooms and a computer lab also are located below ground.
"It is considered a high-wind event area," Kendrick explains.
Construction began with excavating for that basement, which Kendrick reports has progressed smoothly. The basement has a larger footprint than the building, extending beneath the courtyard between the two wings of the structure.
The building sits on a drilled pier and spread-footing foundation. Manhattan installed a retention system along the west side of the project to protect the university's steam tunnel and communication tunnel. On the south side, due to space constraints, another retention system was installed to avoid excavating an additional 20 or 25 feet adjacent to the existing structure.
The retention systems required drilling 20-feet into the shale with piles concreted in place. Mesh was added between the piles and then covered with shotcrete.
With the project in the center of the university's campus, logistics of deliveries and organizing lay-down areas are more complicated than in a more open location.
"With the project located right in the heart of campus, keeping students, faculty and workers safe is the top priority," Kendrick says.
Additionally, buses run past the site about every three to five minutes. Manhattan has closed one lane of the campus road for deliveries, which are being scheduled 48 to 72 hours in advance, so Manhattan crews are ready to receive the materials when the truck arrives.
While the building will appear to be curved on the outside, the structural steel is actually fabricated in smaller segments, which will be set straight at a slight angle.
"It definitely creates a challenge anytime you have more angles," Kendrick says. "The beams segment across to each column slowly around the radius. The finishes will give it a round look."
The tower crane arrived in December, and crews are scheduled to begin erecting the steel this month. By summer, the roof should be in place.
Brick will clad the exterior. Elements include dormers and gables, familiar to other buildings on the campus. One company, with two crews, will be hired to complete the brick work. One will start on the interior radius and one on the exterior. The new building will connect with an existing structure.
A curtain-wall system graces the entry at the center of the building. Inside will be an atrium. An LED lighting system will enable the school to change colors depending on the season. Interior finishes are still in design.
The project experienced some rain delays in 2015 but remains on schedule and within budget.
To go along with the new building, which will open in January 2018, the school is re-evaluating and updating its curriculum, how courses are taught and classes offered.
"Everyone is excited about the building," Eastman says. "It has created a sense of optimism and an opportunity for change."