First Peek: INSEAD’s New San Francisco Campus

Part of an elaborate mural on the outside of INSEAD’s new San Francisco campus

INSEAD officially opened the doors to its new San Francisco campus this week, establishing a base in the North American market for the very first since the school’s founding in 1957. The two-story, industrial-chic building, just a couple of blocks away from the ballpark of the San Francisco Giants, expands the school’s global reach, adding to INSEAD’s existing campuses in France, Singapore and the Middle East.

The front door of INSEAD’s San Francisco hub

The 13,000-square-foot building on 224 Townsend St. will serve as a convening space for INSEAD’s 700 Bay Area alumni as well as an educational hub for both its MBA students and executive education participants. The first class to be taught at the center will occur Monday when 42 participants in an international director program begin a three-day module in San Francisco.

The hub features two classrooms–a 55-seat tiered amphitheater named after Charles DePortes, an alum in Hong Kong, and a 38-seat flat classroom with mobile furniture that can be configured in numerous ways–and a half dozen breakout rooms for six-person teams. The day before the hub’s official opening on Feb. 27, workers were still putting the finishing touches on the place, including the built out of the tiered classroom.


The center also boasts a 14-seat boardroom on the first floor that looks out onto Townsend St. as well as a vast event space, dubbed the “garage” because that is exactly what it was not all that long ago. The space, with a massive screen and stage at one end, will be used for everything from classwork to large events. Hub Director Isabelle Finger, an INSEAD MBA 2009 alum recruited from Coursera in early 2019, envisions a version of the school’s “random dinners” among local alumni.

Finger says that INSEAD expects to have as many as 20 professors coming back and forth from its other campuses to teach classes at the hub through the end of June. At some point, she adds, INSEAD plans to hire one full-time professor who will work out of the hub in the one faculty office located on the ground floor.

Where once cars were parked in a garage is now a vast event space in the new INSEAD San Francisco hub

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