'Cutting edge' Knight business school opens


A new state-of-the-art business-school complex spearheaded by Nike founder Philip H. Knight opened at Stanford University Friday (April 29).

The 360,000 sq. ft., eight-building Knight Management Center at the Graduate School of Business is central to Stanford's green-energy and climate-action vision and a new style of 21st century business education, officials said.

Knight, a Stanford MBA who graduated in 1962, contributed $105 million to the $345 million project. It was the largest gift ever to a business school at the time, according to the university.

The complex is the centerpiece of the university's energy- and potable-water reduction strategy, which is far more stringent than the state's, said Fahmida Ahmed, associate director of Stanford's Office of Sustainability.

The Knight buildings are expected to expend 45 percent less energy and used 80 percent less potable water, compared to a building of its type, she said.

The buildings can achieve the highest LEED Platinum rating for environmental sustainability from the U.S. Green Building Council. They include photovoltaic panels to supply 12.5 percent of the complex's energy from solar, daylight illumination for 90 percent of workspaces, efficient under-floor air-distribution systems and heat-recapturing systems and rainwater capture.

"We're very excited about these eight buildings. It's a major milestone on campus," Ahmed said.

The new buildings will enhance the school's comprehensive 2007 Masters of Business Administration program, which includes critical analytical thinking in small seminars, a global experience requirement in another country, personal-leadership development and innovative problem solving in small groups whose members span a variety of disciplines, including medicine, engineering, design and business, School of Business Dean Garth Saloner said.

With its emphasis on "personal transformation," the business program allows students to develop a personalized curriculum through a menu of classes instead of just "one size fits all," he said.

The center's NGP CoLab space, which forgoes fixed desks, houses collaborative design-thinking classes. The 600-person CEMEX Auditorium in Zambrano Hall features university-wide programming to engage non-business students from across campus.

"It's a virtual world, but it is face-to-face interactions -- often that happen in serendipitous fashion -- that are still critical to the way much of great innovation takes place," Stanford University President John Hennessy said.

In January, the school introduced a new 20-week evening certificate program in innovation and entrepreneurship for working professionals in engineering and the sciences and non-business graduate students.

The new 400-person Oberndorf Event Center will expand leadership conferences. The first of these, the Stanford Finance Forum, cosponsored with Stanford Law School, will bring together regulators, bankers and academics in June. In addition to the conference center, two Cisco TelePresence systems allow remote cross-campus and global classroom communications.

Energy- and water-resources management exemplified by the building's design will also be woven into core MBA classes covering sustainability across the functions of business, in the school's MBA/MS Environment and Resources joint degree program, and in elective classes such as environmental entrepreneurship and environmental science for managers and policy makers, Saloner said.

The complex constitutes a significant portion of the 2 million square feet in net academic-building space that the university was allotted under its Santa Clara County 2000 General Use Permit.

Stanford has built out nearly half of the allotted square footage, said Jean McCown, Stanford's director of community relations. Several other buildings, including the 500,000 square-foot Science and Engineering Quad, also represent the university's green strategy. Three of the quad's four buildings are currently open: the Huang Engineering Center, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2) use 50 percent less energy and 90 percent less water, according to Ahmed.

Two medical buildings comprising about 320,000 square feet and the Bing Concert Hall are also in accord with the university's stringent environmental building standards, which are 30 percent higher than California energy-efficiency design standards and 25 percent greater for water efficiency, she said.

The April 29 opening featured an open house for the general public from 2 to 5 p.m. Festivities included a debate on leadership by Graduate School of Business staff, music by the Stanford Band and campus a cappella groups, refreshments and prizes.

The center is located at 655 Knight Way, Stanford.

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