PROXIMITY PRODUCES PARTNERSHIPS
The best part of the Harper Center, however, is how close it is to the rest of the University of Chicago’s campus. “You can walk to the law school and take a class,” Kole points out. “You can walk to the main campus and take courses in any part of the university. Unlike other institutions, which try to separate themselves from the university, we see an enormous advantage of bringing other students into our classes and getting our students to take classes elsewhere. It broadens who we are.”
This proximity comes in handy with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is housed both in the Harper Center and a 53rd Street facility – with the latter featuring 34,000 square feet of cohabitation space that includes innovation labs and an accelerator. “We have people from all over the university coming together and other universities to work on creating ideas that feed companies,” Kole explains. It brings our students closer to the scientists and the scientists closer to people who can help them commercialize their businesses.”
At Booth, the action is hardly confined to Hyde Park. Just steps from the downtown Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the school also operates the Gleacher Center. The 50,000 square foot, six-story space is home to the school’s part-time and executive education programs. At the same time, it doubles as a conference center catering to organizations across the region, with sweeping views of the river that rank among the best in Chicago.
MOST BOOTH STUDENTS LIVE NEAR DOWNTOWN FACILITY
Sitting alongside a spacious plaza, which Booth uses for reunions and student picnics, the Gleacher Center also features the Midway Club, a restaurant catered by Wolfgang Puck. It also includes a grab-and-go student café and a bar, which draws heavily from Booth’s Hyde Park campus. In fact, the Gleacher Center ranks alongside the Winter Garden as a meeting spot for full-time MBAs. That’s no accident, Kole explains, since many students live in a set of buildings near River North that are “almost like dorms equipped with study lounges and computer labs.” Already living in the neighborhood, many full-time students head to Gleacher and the “455 building” across the street to eat, hold meetings, and continue working together.
This 455 building – popularly known as NBC Tower – has been a recent investment for the school. Thanks to the increasing popularity of Booth’s programming, the school renovated space on the ground floor, adding 16 student rooms, a conference room, additional classrooms, and (of course) artwork. At the same time, the neighborhood around Gleacher has been spruced up, with The Apple Store moving next door and the city lining the streets with new trees.
Best of all, Booth owns their building. “We’re not going to get priced out of the neighborhood,” Kole states. “The neighborhood is only going to get better around us.”
Booth’s footprint extends far beyond Chicago too. For one, the school is building a Hong Kong campus, which sits on a hill overlooking the South China Sea, to replace its rented facility on the main island. According to Kole, the new facility is slated to open this summer. At the same time, Booth’s European Executive MBA program is housed in the Woolgate Exchange, right in the heart of London’s Financial District. In addition, the school operates centers in Paris and India. Such far-flung enterprises offer an unexpected benefit, Kole adds. “Because we are so closely tied to the larger institutions, our students are welcome to use all of these facilities. For example, when students go to India to work on some entrepreneurial idea, they can park themselves in the India Center and work from there. They are not Booth only, but University of Chicago sites.”
SETTINGS DESIGNED TO SPUR AN “EXCHANGE OF IDEAS”
At Anderson, the Marion Anderson Courtyard acts as the hub of the program. In fact, the courtyard is literally the center of campus, smack in the middle of six buildings encircling it. The courtyard is so popular that the school has installed solar umbrellas so students could plug in their devices and spend their day outside if they chose.
“I see this every single day with students passing by from the café,” says Jesek Carman. “They live in the courtyard. There are different programs that meet and gather out there. They exchange ideas and talk about their classes. There is a continual conversation that happens, the free flow of information has become a living classroom.”
On any tour, Jesek Carman would also highlight the Anderson Venture Accelerator. Boasting 10,000 square feet, the accelerator offers space for students to start or build their own business – and features the flexibility to adapt the space to fit students’ custom needs.
“Practically every inch of the wall space, including the tables, are mobile so you can break the room down and create whatever workspace that you need,” she observes. “We have probably 120 students in there in a 24 hour period off-and-on. This is a hub for a variety of our MBA programs where they can collaborate with not just full-time MBAs but the fully-employed among the executive MBA students and undergraduate students with an entrepreneurship minor as well. This is what it does: It helps students get together and fosters the exchange of ideas.”
THURSDAY BEER BUSTS WELCOME STUDENT FAMILIES…AND PETS
Like Booth, the Anderson campus is a work-in-progress. Notably, the school broke ground on Marion Anderson Hall in January. Scheduled to open in December 2019, this 64,000 square foot addition will boost event and administrative space at the school. Even more, it will include flipped classroom space, where setup can be adjusted for pedagogy. Like other buildings in the Anderson complex, Anderson Hall will rely heavily on glass, natural light, and open space – a nod to the school’s consistent indoor-outdoor feel. At the same time, Marion Anderson’s interior will integrate the same “modern” and “outdoor” feel of the complex that models its “Think in the next” philosophy.
“We’re in separate buildings, but each building has an atrium,” says Rob Weiler, associate dean for the full-time MBA program. “These wide open spaces serve double duty for cocktail receptions with employers. Jamie’s team has also done a great job in putting a lot of sleek-looking furniture in there. It looks almost like an Apple Store.”
Most often, you’ll find Anderson students outside, with pockets of furniture planted across the various lawns. The program also takes pains to leverage the “fresh air” whenever possible. On the North Lawn, for example, the school holds its Thursday Anderson Afternoon Beer Busts. Here, 300-400 students from Anderson’s various programs gather to mingle. It is so informal that even spouses, children and dogs are welcome to join. Such gatherings also reinforce the “One Anderson” concept that permeates the program.