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 New UMD Building Opens

Joel Labovitz at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Grand Opening event

UMD Grand Opening for $23 Million
Labovitz School of Business and Economics

The environmental “Green Building” is awarded Gold LEED Certification and it is the first new LEED Certified academic building in Minnesota.
UMD held grand opening ceremonies on September 19 for the new $23 million Labovitz School of Business and Economics.  The school is named for Duluth natives Sharon and Joel Labovitz who donated $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. The generosity of the Labovitz family provided the impetus for legislative state funding.

At the grand opening event Joel Labovitz said, “We wish the best of experiences, the best education, to anyone who has anything to do with this school; now and forever." He went on to talk about his family's connection to Duluth and UMD. " Our name has been associated with Duluth since 1907, when the Labovitz family first arrived in the city. Today, of all of those years, is the best day of all."
Located on the northwest corner of the UMD campus, the 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.

Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin in the atrium of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics building. Over 200 people attended the ceremony.
Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin, LSBE Dean Kjell Knudsen, Joel and Sharon Labovitz gather in front of a Harold Adams painting.
At the ceremony, UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin said, "Five years ago, when Joel and Sharon announced their gift, Joel said that they think of Duluth and UMD as their garden. We’re proud to announce the UMD garden is flourishing as it gives students and faculty the tools to produce a bountiful harvest for years to come.”

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:
• Sustainable Sites
• Water Efficiency
• Energy and Atmosphere
• Materials and Resources
• Indoor Environmental Quality
“Thank you for the wonderful, wonderful facility," said LSBE Dean Kjell Knudsen at the event. "We finally got a building which displays the quality of the faculty and staff of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Those are the people who, day-in-day-out, provide the guidance students need to be successful.”
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.

Sharon and Joel Labovitz have donated eight original paintings from their personal art collection.  The large works--reaching four to six feet--are displayed throughout 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 Labovitz family.  (See below for a profile about Adams entitled “Art As Life”.)
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 seem 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 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, Ill.) led the project, with world-renowned architect Ralph Johnson as principal designer. The local contractor was Oscar J. Boldt Construction of Cloquet, Minn.
The Labovitz School of Business and Economics is the sixth new building to be completed on the UMD campus since the year 2000. Currently under construction is the Civil Engineering Building, set for completion in Fall 2010.

Written by Susan Beasy Latto


Dr. Harold Adams practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 30 years. When he was given a diagnosis the doctors believed was terminal – Hepatitis B, he chose to retire and spend the remainder of his life pursuing painting. He attended classes at Macalester College and then Hamline University, where the head of the art department suggested he go to graduate school. At Hamline, Adams developed what has become a lifelong friendship with Anne Labovitz and her family. Anne is the daughter of Sharon and Joel.

In 1991, at the age of 69, he entered the studio arts master’s program at the University of Minnesota from which he graduated with honors. Adams chronicled his painful journey with Hepatitis B through his art. “He just buried his head in his painting,” describes Anne. And then, doctors discovered the disease miraculously went away. He, and his friends and colleagues, believe that art literally saved his life.

In 2002, he had an exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum. The museum now has numerous works by Adams in its permanent collection. Adams’ work is characterized by his continual experimentation with unusual techniques, which have been described as almost surgical procedures. If it has been done before, he is not interested. One technique is the application of numerous coats of paint, which he sands and re-sands. He then collects the dust from the floor and reapplies it as additional layers.

Adams considers his paintings a diary of his life. “They are as natural as eating, and as necessary.”

To honor Sharon and Joel Labovitz, Adams has donated a number of his paintings to the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. The paintings will hang throughout the building.

“Dr. Adams’ paintings are remarkable and will make a great addition to the building. They also have an inspirational and exploratory nature to them, which can be a positive influence in the lives of these students as they search for knowledge and meaning,” says Anne.



UMD Recent Building Projects Include:
Library, $26 million, open 2000
Weber Music Hall, $9.2 million, open 2002
Kirby Plaza, $20 million, open 2004
James I. Swenson Science Building, 33 million, open 2005
Sports and Health Center Addition $13 million, open 2006
Life Science Renovation, $15 million, open 2006
Labovitz School of Business & Economics $23 million, planned opening 2008
Bagley Environmental Classroom, planned opening 2009
Civil Engineering Building, planned opening 2010

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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