UMD held grand opening ceremonies September 19 for the stunning, new $23 million Labovitz School of Business and Economics. The school is named for Duluth natives Sharon and Joel Labovitz who made a gift of $4.5 million for the new building. The gift is the largest ever for the School of Business and Economics, and the second largest for UMD. Their generosity provided the impetus--paving the way for legislative state funding.
Located on the northwest corner of the UMD campus, the dramatic three-story structure includes state-of-the-art facilities to provide business education in a knowledge-based global economy. The 65,000 gross square foot building contains the latest in advanced technology with modern computer labs, facilities for distance learning and conferencing, and multipurpose classrooms. The remarkable Financial Markets Lab, located just inside the front entrance, provides students with hands-on learning and participation in the financial markets.
UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said, "The wonderful generosity of Sharon and Joel Labovitz will provide benefits to students and area residents for decades to come. We are enormously grateful to these two outstanding Duluthians for their tremendous commitment to UMD and to this entire region." She added, "And we sincerely thank our area legislators and Governor Pawlenty for their strong support in making this wonderful building possible."
Having won the Gold Award in LEED certification--the Labovitz School of Business and Economics is the first new higher education building in the state of Minnesota to be a LEED certified "green building". LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a "green building" rating system established by the United States Green Building Council. The Labovitz School is totally designed to meet LEED certification--a rigorous process that evaluates the environmental sustainability of building design, construction and operation.
The LEED checklist concerns five major areas:
"The promise of this outstanding, state-of-the-art building cannot be overestimated," said LSBE Dean Kjell Knudsen. "Through the generosity of Sharon and Joel Labovitz, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics has a golden opportunity to further grow in stature and reputation and significantly contribute to the strength of our entire area, our state, and our nation."
The modern, spacious building is organized around a three-story, sky lit common area surrounded by a two-level administrative block, a large 133-seat auditorium and a rotated instructional wing containing classrooms for 40 and 60 students. The design serves to harvest daylight and reduce the building's energy consumption--while providing views to the surrounding wetlands and Lake Superior.
In an additional note of generosity, Sharon and Joel Labovitz have donated eight original paintings from their personal art collection. The large colorful works--reaching four to six feet--are displayed through out the building, adding a dramatic flare to the modern, open spaces of the School. The artist, Dr. Harold Adams, is a personal friend of the family--and the story of his paintings is quite remarkable.
Located next to the library, the new structure is oriented in an east/west direction perpendicular to the existing campus development. The result is the creation of a new gateway to the campus for those approaching from the Northwest. Above the classroom wing is a layer of thin concrete plates that seems to "float" above and extend westward over Kirby Drive--thus creating a new front door and a literal gateway to the campus.
The building is composed of a rich palette of natural materials including weathering steel, exposed concrete and a system of multicolored patterned window curtainwalls. The materials serve not only as reminders of the rich industrial history that has shaped the growth of the Duluth area--but also to further articulate the programmatic elements contained within the building.
The internationally recognized architectural firm Perkins+Will (Chicago, Illinois) led the project, with world-renowned architect Ralph Johnson as principal designer. Local contractor was Oscar J. Boldt Construction of Cloquet, Minnesota
The Labovitz School of Business and Economics is the 6th new building to be completed on the UMD campus since the year 2000. Adding these new buildings to major additions constructed on the campus since 2000--that number reaches eleven. Currently under construction is the Civil Engineering Building, set for completion in Fall 2010.